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Capitals trade defenseman Brenden Dillon to Jets for two second-round picks

The Capitals traded Brenden Dillon for two second-round picks Monday night. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The Washington Capitals traded defenseman Brenden Dillon to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night for a pair of second-round draft picks — one in 2022, one in 2023.

Dillon has three years left on his four-year deal with an average annual value of $3.9 million. Washington needed to clear cap space to re-sign captain Alex Ovechkin and goaltender Ilya Samsonov. The Capitals now have $13.6 million in cap space after shedding Dillon’s contract, according to the NHL news site PuckPedia. It was Washington’s first major trade this offseason.

Ovechkin is set to become an unrestricted free agent after his 13-year, $124 million deal expires at noon Wednesday. The Capitals tendered a qualifying offer to Samsonov, who is a restricted free agent, on Monday.

The Capitals signed Dillon to a four-year, $15.6 million extension in October after he was acquired at the 2019-20 trade deadline. He played in all 56 regular season games for Washington in a pandemic-shortened season and tallied two goals and 17 assists.

As draft wraps, Capits anticipate completing deal with Alex Ovechkin before free agency

The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was a staple on the Washington blue line last season, slotting in on the Capitals’ top-four — mainly skating alongside John Carlson.

Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan said Saturday that the team would have to make some hard decisions on defense, with multiple players poised to return but very little cap space to operate. The team has indicated it wants to add more younger players, with defenseman Martin Fehervary at the top of the list.

With Dillon off the roster, the Capitals still have Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Justin Schultz and Nick Jensen as the core veteran blue-liners from last season. Schultz and Jensen were the two other options to be moved in the offseason, with Schultz’s cap hit at $4 million and Jensen at $2.5 million.