The Washington Capitals had a busy weekend in sunny southern Florida as they selected four players at the NHL Entry Draft.
The Washington Capitals selected Ilya Samsonov (goaltender, 1st round, Russia-JR), Jonas Siegenthaler (defenseman, 2nd round, Swiss), Connor Hobbs (defenseman, 5th round, WHL), and Colby Williams (defenseman, 6th round, WHL).
It is certain that the Capitals made franchise history by not selecting any forward in this NHL Entry Draft. In all the previous drafts in franchise history, they have always selected a forward. This definitely reflects the philosophical changes that GM Brian MacLellan and Barry Trotz have brought to the Capitals within the past year.
There is no doubt that drafting some defensemen and a goalie is unpopular from the fans point of view. But these are the two areas where the Capitals seem to have a lot of depth in within the organization. Is there anything wrong with adding to a surplus at certain positions? I do not think so. Goaltending and defense are the most important positions on the hockey rink. Teams can survive and make the playoffs if they have quality defense and goaltending.
It will be a few years down the road before the Capitals fans get any glimpse of seeing these players on the ice. It is hard to tell right now if any of these players will make it to next level, but it is nice to see the Capitals trying to add even more depth at certain positions. These two positions are extremely important and it goes a long way to have depth there.
Since the Capitals focused more on defense and goaltending in this NHL Draft, the Capitals are probably going to go forward heavy at next year’s NHL Draft. Since the Capitals are still a little weak at the centre position, I would expect them to take the best available player at that position in the upcoming NHL Draft.
A Look Ahead to NHL Free Agency
The NHL’s version of Christmas Day comes on Wednesday, July 1. This is the beginning of free agency frenzy. Most hockey fans will be anxious to see who their favorite clubs decide to bring to their respective organizations.
So what do the Washington Capitals need to do? The first thing they need to do is to make decisions on their own players. There are some restricted free agents that need to be re-signed – these players include Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Marcus Johansson. There are also players that are unrestricted free agents that the Capitals may or may not re-sign – these players include: Mike Green, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward, Jay Beagle, Curtis Glencross, Tim Gleason, and John Erskine.
I am positive that the Capitals will reach new deals with their restricted free agents. Since the NHL is a hard salary cap league, the harder decisions will involve their unrestricted free agents.
Mike Green, Eric Fehr, Curtis Glencross, and Joel Ward are set to test NHL Free Agency. It seems that the Capitals will not have enough cap space and money to re-sign these players. Tim Gleason and Jay Beagle may or may not be back with the Capitals. John Erskine’s hockey career depends on what his health situation is. He may never see NHL ice ever again.
Once the Capitals re-sign their restricted free agents, they will probably have less than $10 million dollars in cap space to sign four more players. That is not a lot of wiggle room to work with. They will need to add at least two more forwards and two more defensemen via free agency or the trade route.
On top of all of the Capitals decisions with their own personnel, the Capitals are still in the market for a top line right-wing. They will either need to make a trade to get this particular player, or they will have to sign him in free agency.
The NHL Free Agency market is very bare and there is not much in regards top tier talent that is going to be available. Some of the notable wingers that will be available July 1 include:
Justin Williams (LAK)
Michael Frolik (WPG)
Michael Ryder (NJD)
Martin Erat (ARI)
Chris Stewart (MIN)
Martin St. Louis (NYR)
As noted, there is not much top tier talent that is going to be available at the start of NHL Free Agency. I believe the Capitals might have better luck via the trade route in trying to find their solution for the top line right-wing spot.
It is going to be a tricky situation for the Capitals as they try to fit the best possible lineup under the salary cap. They might have to trade a roster player or two that is already under contract in order to fill the remaining holes.
Could someone like Troy Brouwer fetch something good on the trade market? Could the Capitals trade him and dump some salary? What about someone like Brooks Laich? Could he fetch something via trade? These are two players I believe the Capitals could part with in order to help fill some of the other holes in the lineup.
I do believe the Capitals need to find their solution for the top line-right wing spot. There cannot be a revolving door of players playing in this position from game to game. The Capitals need to find a player that can play alongside their two best players Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. They need to find someone who can score some goals consistently. Alex Ovechkin cannot be the only Capitals skater that is scoring goals consistently game by game. Secondary scoring is needed and is hard to find. But I am confident the Capitals will make their move soon and they will get this hole filled.
By George Foussekis