The Capitals have certainly added some exciting pieces to the puzzle this offseason and they certainly have some talent in Hershey that could be ripe for the picking sooner than later. The 2015-16 season, can’t come quick enough so for my offseason hockey fix, I’ll make some bold predictions.
- Nicklas Backstrom finishes with career highs in Goals and Assists
On a teleconference shortly after Oshie was traded to the Caps, he stated that playing alongside Ovechkin and Backstrom would make him feel like a “kid in a candy store.” But Backstrom is going to be the one who really DOES feel like the candy store kid. His career high in goals  and assists  came in the 2009-10 season when the majority of his ice time was spent between Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Semin scored a career-high 40 goals that season before dropping off into average/below average land. Since that season, 8 and 19 haven’t had a line-mate that plays at that caliber. We all know Ovechkin won’t but I don’t think Oshie will have a problem scoring goals at a high rate with Backstrom dishing out the puck either. On top of that, Oshie is quite the set-up guy himself. I can’t imagine what a goalie will feel like when he’s facing the Caps on a powerplay. Backstrom will have a career season in 2015-16.
2: Braden Holtby wins the Vezina Trophy
Holtby was a stud last season. He led the league in Games Played and Saves, he was 2nd in Wins and he was tied for 2nd in Shutouts (9) with Vezina and Hart Trophy winner, Carey Price. After they get his contract in place, Holtby will be looking to improve in more ways than one. As we can tell from his playoff performance and his odd game-day rituals, Braden is very mentally strong and he uses exercises and routines to keep him that way. Combine his dedication to hard work with another training camp with Mitch Korn (a top goalie coach in the league), and he might as well make some room in his trophy cabinet. He has the respect of his teammates, coaches and fans and that should be a major confidence booster entering the 2015-16 season.
- John Carlson will win the Norris Trophy
Among all the defenseman in the NHL last season, Carlson’s 55 points were good for 6th best, his 43 assists were good for 5th, 200 blocked shots were good for 3rd, he finished up with a +11 and had 193 shots on goal. With Mike Green now in Detroit, Carlson will most likely clock more time on the Capital’s first powerplay unit next season thus increasing his point production marginally. I see Carlson’s all around game improving a bit in his 2nd offseason under Trotz and that could be just enough to challenge other defenseman like Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty and PK Subban for the Norris. When you hear those player’s names, it seems a daunting task.
- Barry Trotz Wins Jack Adams Award
There is no doubt that Trotz has patched what many believed to be a sinking ship in his 1st season with the Capitals. He put an excellent system into place here in Washington and every one of the players bought in. He preaches winning, leadership, accountability etc. His players, young and old, respect him and they process and utilize the information that he gives. Next season is more of the same but it all comes together.
I highly suggest Caps fans read this article by my fellow NOVA Caps writer, Stephanie Judge. http://novacapsfans.com/2015/07/08/a-mission-for-the-cup-by-stephanie-judge/
- The Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup
This team was 1 minute and 40 seconds away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. With the additions of Justin Williams and TJ Oshie, this team will be better this season than last. Justin Williams has the most Game 7 points of any player in NHL history and is tied with Glenn Anderson for most goals in game 7s. TJ Oshie is going to add more scoring and make everyone around him better. Kuznetsov is due to become a star next season after finishing strong last season, including a game winning goal in game 7 against the Islanders. Burakovsky has another offseason of development and we still have 4 of the best defenseman in the league. Not to mention we’ll put the NHL’s reigning top goal scorer in Ovechkin, and the NHL’s reigning top Assist getter in Backstrom on the ice opening night. The coaches are outstanding and will be there every step of the way. Lord Stanley’s Cup will come home to the DC next season.
BY: Zach Hart