The Capitals and the Need for Speed (Part 2 of 2)

kessel shot on holtby
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

After a disappointing 2nd round loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals are looking to add more speed to their lineup for next season.

On Monday, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan noted in his press conference that he was going to try to fix the Capitals bottom-six forward group over the summer.  The Penguins were quicker than the Capitals at various times in their 2nd round playoff series.  The Capitals bottom six-forwards and bottom defensive pair were exposed badly, and those particular players looked a bit overwhelmed at times.

Part 1 of this article highlighted speedy opposing players who have tormented the Capitals in the past.  Some of the players listed are no longer active in the NHL, but they all played a big role in sticking a dagger to the Capitals in previous playoff losses.

And now let’s move on to Part 2 of this article.  This part of the article will discuss active players around the NHL who could help the Capitals in the speed department.  It will also talk about some possible in-house options for the Capitals as they move ahead to next season.

Let’s take a look at some current NHL players who could help address the Capitals need for speed.  The players named below are labeled by their respective clubs, contract status, and their production from the 2015-16 season:

ANDREW COGLIANO

Club: Anaheim Ducks
Status: 2-years left, $3 million cap hit
2015-16 Production: 9 G, 23 A, 32 P

Analysis: The speedy Ducks forward is all over the ice for the Ducks during games.  The 28-year old Toronto native averaged a little over 14 minutes per game in 2015-16, and he got a ton of minutes on the Ducks penalty kill.  He has shown consistent production for a bottom-six player in the NHL.

Would the Ducks possibly trade him?  He has a modified no-trade clause in his contract, so he has to agree to be moved.  The Ducks could be undergoing some major changes this offseason, since they were bounced fairly early from the playoffs.  They have some key restricted free-agents to re-sign this summer with Sami Vatanen, Frederik Andersen, and Hampus Lindholm up for renewals.

CAM ATKINSON

Club: Columbus Blue Jackets
Status: 2-years left, $3.5 million cap hit
2015-16 Production: 27 G, 26 A, 53 P

Analysis: The tiny Jackets forward had a career season with the Jackets in 2015-16.  He is only 5’7” tall and weighs under 180 lbs, but he can fly on the ice.  He led all Jackets forwards in total time on ice.  He can also play on the Jackets powerplay and penalty killing units, so he is a very versatile player.

The chances of the Jackets trading the 26-year old winger are slim to none.  But his blazing speed and nose for the net are certainly fun to watch.  He would instantly give the Capitals a bonafide top-9 forward group.

MATT DUCHENE

Club: Colorado Avalanche
Status: 3-years left, $6 million cap hit
2015-16 Production: 30 G, 29 A, 59 P

Analysis: The 3rd overall pick of the 2009 NHL Draft is on this list for a reason.  He is a fast skater with an excellent set of hands.  Changes could be coming in the Mile High City.  Avalanche Head Coach Patrick Roy called out his young core multiple times throughout the season for poor play.

The chance of Duchene getting traded is high.  The Avalanche could get a decent haul for him, and improve their club for the future.  The Avalanche very rarely ever spend up to the salary cap, and they have several holes to fill on their blueline.  The price would be high, but Duchene is a game-changer.  The Capitals may have some prospects that could intrigue the Avalanche.  If the Avalanche are throwing his name around, Brian MacLellan better listen.

FRANS NIELSEN

Club: New York Islanders
Status: UFA
2015-16 Production: 20 G, 32 A, 52 P

Analysis: The 32-year old Dane is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro.  He averaged a little over 17 minutes per game for the Islanders in 2015-16.  He is coming off an expiring 4-year, $11 million contract.  He should get a decent pay raise and nice lengthy deal for his next contract.  He won over 50% of his draws and was a regular on both special teams units for the Islanders.

He would be a fantastic pickup for the Capitals in free agency if they have the cap space to sign him.  He could possibly fill the 3rd line centre spot that they were searching for all of last season.

TEDDY PURCELL

Club: Florida Panthers/Edmonton Oilers
Status: UFA
2015-16 Production: 14 G, 29 A, 43 P

Analysis: The 30-year old Newfoundland native has haunted the Capitals before.  He was traded to the Florida Panthers at the NHL Trade Deadline.  He is coming off an expiring 3-year, $13.5 million deal.  He has been a pretty consistent 30-40 point player in his NHL career.  He can also contribute on any club’s powerplay unit.

He would be a solid fit on the Capitals 3rd or 4th line.  He can display some offensive flair in flashes, and could be an adequate replacement for Jason Chimera.

IN-HOUSE OPTIONS

JAKUB VRANA

Club: Hershey Bears (AHL)
Status: 2-years left, entry deal
2015-16 Production: 16 G, 18 A, 34 P

Analysis: The 2014 1st round pick of the Washington Capitals has been fun to watch with the Hershey Bears.  While he needs to fill out his frame a little more, he has a lot of speed and skill.  He missed part of the 2015-16 season due to injury, but he has been on a tear for the Bears in the playoffs.  He has 4 goals and 9 points in 12 playoff games for Hershey.

NATHAN WALKER

Club: Hershey Bears (AHL)
Status: 1-year left, entry deal
2015-16 Production: 17 G, 24 A, 41 P

Analysis: He was the first ever native from Austrailia to be selected in the NHL Draft.  The Capitals selected him in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft.  He had a productive season for Hershey, and is a fearless competitor on the ice.

TRAVIS BOYD

Club: Hershey Bears (AHL)
Status: 1-year left, entry deal
2015-16 Production: 21 G, 32 A, 53 P

Analysis: The former Minnesota Golden Gopher took the long road to pro hockey.  He was selected by the Capitals in the 6th round in 2011, and was able to play in the NCAA Frozen Four twice in his career.  He scored the Game 7 game-winning goal in overtime against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins to help Hershey advance to the Calder Cup Eastern Conference Finals.

By: George Foussekis

About George Foussekis

I am a sports fanatic. I love hockey and football, and I enjoy writing about my two favorite sports. I am a proud Old Dominion University alum.
This entry was posted in Free Agency, Games and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Capitals and the Need for Speed (Part 2 of 2)

  1. Sarah Bennett says:

    Please Brian MacLellan: You were brilliant in bringing in Williams and Oshie but stop messing with the players and build some team consistency! Players don’t like being pitted against each other. Compare the first half of the year with the second half after you brought in the other two – Weber and Winnik. Big difference. Let the players become use to each other on the same lines. Chimera has heart and loyalty – you should keep him! Might look at improving the coaching and management of the team. The players are coached — the new younger Penguin Coach was brilliant!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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