The Washington Capitals have had their fair share of impactful trades throughout their existence. Here are three of the greatest trades in Capitals’ history.
Larry Murphy for Brian Engblom and Ken Houston
Larry Murphy was selected by the Los Angeles Kings with the number 4 pick in the 1980 NHL Draft. He had three excellent seasons as a King. As a rookie he notched a hefty 76 points (16 goals, 60 assists) in 80 games. His next two seasons in L.A. would be similarly spectacular. It was eventually time for the salary discussion and Murphy’s case went to arbitration. Murphy’s ask was higher than the Kings wanted to offer. Surprisingly, the arbitrator decided that Murphy should earn even less than the Kings were offering. That’s when Larry Murphy asked to be traded. The Kings complied, and Murphy was sent to the Washington Capitals almost immediately, in exchange for Brian Engblom and Ken Houston.
Murphy’s success followed him to D.C. In his first season with the Capitals he put up a 0.64 points-per-game mark. His points-per-game would increase over the next few seasons, peaking with a 1.01 mark in 1986-87 when he finished third in the Norris Trophy voting.
Brian Engblom spent the 1982-83 season with the Capitals, after having come over from the Montreal Canadiens. Engblom was serviceable in his time with Washington, notching 27 points in 73 games.
Ken Houston, in his brief time with the Capitals, put up some decent numbers. He notched a respectable 25 goals to go with 14 assists during the 1982-83 season. He would spend just 33 games with the Kings before retiring.
Rod Langway, Doug Jarvis, Brian Engblom and Craig Laughlin Acquired for Rick Green and Ryan Walter
Trading your franchise’s first ever number one overall draft pick is never easy. That’s what the Capitals did though in letting Rick Green go. They also parted ways with their second overall draft pick from 1978 in Ryan Walter.
The return they received in letting those two players go however was in a word, tremendous. Rod Langway, a future Hall of Famer, had spent four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, and wanted out. Washington D.C. suited Langway well. The former Stanley Cup Champion with the Montreal Canadiens won a Norris Trophy in his first season with the Caps. He also helped Washington reach the playoffs for the first time ever; something they would do in each of Langway’s eleven seasons with the team.
Doug Jarvis also picked up some hardware in his time with Washington. After his second season, Jarvis won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the forward demonstrating the most defensive skill in the league.
Craig Laughlin had shown promise in his first year in the NHL, spent with the Montreal Canadiens. That promise carried over to his time with the Capitals. He put up a strong 44 points over 75 games in his first season with Washington. He would hover around that mark, with his finest season coming in 1985-86 when he notched a point-per-game.
Brian Engblom only had one full season with the Capitals. He was however, part of their trade the following season which let them acquire future Hall of Famer Larry Murphy.
Both Rick Green and Ryan Walter would both win rings as a member of the Montreal Canadiens’ squad which took home the Stanley Cup Championship in 1986.
For Washington’s part, this trade brought in some veteran leadership which changed their culture and put them on a path to success, which was shown through consecutive playoff berths.
Mike Ridley, Kelly Miller and Bob Crawford acquired in exchange for Bobby Carpenter and a second-round draft pick in 1987
In a trade which sent the discontented Bobby Carpenter and a draft pick to the New York Rangers, the Capitals were able to acquire three solid forwards in Mike Ridley, Kelly Miller and Bob Crawford.
Bobby Carpenter did not see eye-to-eye with Washington management, and was eventually told not to report to practice, whether he was on the trading block or not. He was on the trading block however, and then GM David Poile was asking a higher price than other team’s were willing to give for the once 53-goal scorer.
The New York Rangers’ GM Phil Esposito had his eye on the young Carpenter for “about a month” however. In his quest to make the Rangers a better team as the playoffs approached, Esposito would give up what would prove to be too much in return for Carpenter’s services. Interestingly, Esposito would wind up trading Carpenter to the Los Angeles Kings, after he played only 28 games for the Rangers.
Mike Ridley, who finished fourth in the Calder Trophy voting as a rookie, and notched 65 points in his first campaign, was having another strong year for the Rangers. After he came to the Caps in this trade, he put up 34 points in 40 games, continuing his excellent play. Ridley would play eight seasons for Washington, garnering 547 regular season points and 60 playoff points.
Kelly Miller was in his third season with New York, and his second full season. His time with the Rangers wasn’t remarkable, but he performed well. As a forward who showed defensive skill, Miller flourished with the Capitals. He scored 22 points in his first 39 games as a Cap, and would become a steady performer, peaking in the 1991-92 season, when he put up 52 points in 78 games. Miller’s consistency with the Capitals is proven by the fact that he sits third on the all-time list of games played by a Capital with 940 over his 13 seasons in Washington.
Bob Crawford was a veteran when he came over in the trade for Bobby Carpenter. He played in just 14 games with New York prior to the trade, and would play in just 12 games with Washington, prior to winding down his NHL career.
Scott is a published writer and editor in the sports, fitness and business fields. He currently covers the Washington Capitals for The Hockey Writers. Based in the New York metro area, he is a Villanova University alumnus.