After a disappointing 2nd round playoff exit, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan will be looking to improve his roster for the 2016-17 NHL season.
MacLellan has already made oodles of moves for the Capitals in his tenure as the Capitals GM. Some of his best moves took place last summer, when he traded for TJ Oshie, and signed Justin Williams in free agency.
The Capitals GM will continue to be a busy man, and he has a few holes in his roster that he will have to fill. So what will MacLellan have to accomplish this summer? What tough decisions will MacLellan have to make?
Let’s take a look at Brian MacLellan’s Summer 2016 To-Do List:
SOLVE THE MOJO CONUNDRUM
Marcus Johansson is one of the Capitals four restricted free-agents this summer. He is coming off an expiring 1-year $3.75 million deal. Brian MacLellan must decide if Johansson is in the Capitals long-term plans.
If Johansson is qualified and receives an extension from the Capitals, the term and money must be right. The Capitals will be in a cap crunch after next season concludes.
If Johansson is not a part of the long-term plans, MacLellan must qualify him, and trade his rights. It is important for MacLellan to get a decent asset in return for Johansson if he decides to deal him.
FIX THE THIRD LINE
Jay Beagle and Mike Richards both played in the third line centre spot for the Capitals. Both players lack offensive upside, and are better suited for defensive roles.
MacLellan must find a solution for the third line centre position. He needs to find a player that can win draws, and put up 30-40 points in this role. MacLellan will most likely have to explore the free agency and trade routes. There is the possibility that Hershey Bears forward Chandler Stephenson could also crack the Capitals opening night roster.
FIND SPEED ON THE BLUELINE
Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt, and Mike Weber all struggled against the Penguins speed in the second round of the playoffs.
Orlov and Weber are free agents this summer. Orlov will most likely re-sign on a short-term deal, while Weber will probably sign with another club. Once Orlov gets re-signed, the Capitals will have 7 defensemen under contract.
Could MacLellan find a depth mobile defenseman in free agency or trade? What will Orlov’s role with the Capitals be moving forward? Will Orlov see a bump in his icetime next season?
EXPAND TOM WILSON’S ROLE FOR NEXT SEASON
Brian MacLellan has openly stated that he wants to make Tom Wilson into the next Joel Ward.
With that in mind, MacLellan needs to make sure that Tom Wilson can have an expanded role with the club. In 2015-16, Wilson was stuck between the third and fourth lines. He also grew into a fantastic penalty killer for the Capitals.
The next step in Wilson’s development is to place him next to skilled players that can score goals. Wilson should see some playing time alongside players like Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alex Ovechkin. If Wilson gets a chance to play next to the Capitals top point producers, it should help his offensive game grow. Wilson should also see some looks on the Capitals powerplay unit.
Wilson is a restricted free-agent this summer, and will most likely get a bridge deal from the Capitals. He will get a bump in his pay, and more will be expected from him when he receives his next contract.
FIND A ROLE FOR STAN GALIEV
Stan Galiev was a bit of an outcast player for the Capitals during their magical season. He only played in 24 regular season games, and recorded 3 points. When he did play, he played sparingly on the Capitals 4th line.
Galiev has shown flashes of skill, and he has a decent shot. The 4th line is not an ideal role for him. He should probably play with other skilled players.
Does Galiev have a future with the Capitals? He has one more year left on his current deal. Could he be a piece MacLellan moves in a trade? If he remains with the Capitals, will his role expand with the club?
By: George Foussekis