The Washington Capitals have traded a conditional fifth-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Tom Gilbert. Gilbert, a 34-year-old right shot blue-liner, cleared waivers earlier this month and will report to Washington’s minor league affiliate in Hershey.
The Kings are retaining 20 percent of Gilbert’s $1.4 million salary, and the conditions on the 2017 pick are that the Capitals get past the second round of the playoffs and Gilbert play in at least half the postseason games. Otherwise, Los Angeles will get nothing in return for Gilbert. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
For Washington, the move is insurance in case of injuries to the team’s defense. With prospect Madison Bowey out with a tendon laceration injury, the organization isn’t as deep at defense as it as at forward, so acquiring Gilbert provides the Capitals with a veteran option, if needed.
“If you don’t have young guys that are ready to move up, you’ve pretty much got to protect yourself a little bit with the depth, I think,” General Manager Brian MacLellan said last week. “Maybe you don’t, but we get to the thing and you have one injury and you don’t have a guy, you’re going to get it. You’re going to take some heat.”
Gilbert registered five points (one goal and four assists) in 18 games with the Kings this season, and he has an assist in five games with the Ontario Reign of the AHL. He was originally a fourth-round selection (129th overall) by Colorado at the 2002 NHL draft, and Gilbert played 11 seasons in the NHL with Montreal, Florida, Minnesota, Edmonton and Los Angeles. In 655 career games, he has 223 points (45 goals and 178 assists).
The Capitals are on their bye week and return to practice on Friday.