As the summer moves on and the preseason approaches, the Capitals will look to defend their Metropolitan Division crown.
The Capitals have made a couple of tweaks to their roster during the off-season, but they have not made any earth shattering changes. The club that took the ice in 2015-16 was one of the best clubs in franchise history, and they will look to build an even better record for the upcoming campaign.
What can Capitals fans expect from some of their current players heading into the 2016-17 season? Will we see some of the Capitals youngest stars take positive strides in their development? What will Capitals cornerstone players Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby accomplish this upcoming season?
EVGENY KUZNETSOV WILL FINISH IN THE NHL’S TOP 5 IN POINTS
Kuznetsov burst onto the scene in 2015-16 and was the top Capital in the points race. He finished with 20 goals and 77 points in 82 games for the Capitals.
In 2016-17, he should be able to maintain his hot pace, and should see a small increase in production. Kuznetsov will probably see more ice time on the Capitals top line with Alex Ovechkin and TJ Oshie in the upcoming season.
How does 82 points in 82 games sound to you? 22 goals and 60 assists is a reasonable prediction for Kuznetsov’s totals in 2016-17.
ALEX OVECHKIN WILL HAVE HIS 8TH CAREER 50+ GOAL SEASON
With Evgeny Kuznetsov expected to play more on the top line, Alex Ovechkin should be able to notch another 50+ goal campaign.
Hitting the 50 goal plateau is nothing new to Alex Ovechkin. Let’s pencil in Alex Ovechkin for 52 goals and another Rocket Richard Trophy.
TOM WILSON WILL SCORE 15 GOALS
Tom Wilson was awarded a 2-year extension over the summer, in what can be described as a “show me” bridge contract.
Wilson expanded his role in 2015-16, as he played a majority of his games on the third line. He also took on a penalty killing role, which he was very good at. Wilson needs to play in more offensive roles for the Capitals in order to help his development.
Wilson had 163 penalty minutes in 82 games for the Capitals last season. This number should drop a little bit if the Capitals coaching staff has plans to utilize him in various offensive roles. Wilson should have Marcus Johansson or Lars Eller as his primary centremen in upcoming games.
JOHN CARLSON WILL HAVE 60 POINTS
Carlson’s 2015-16 season was abbreviated a bit due to injury. But he was very productive in the 56 games that he did suit up for with the Caps. He had 8 goals and 39 points in those games that he played. He was a force at both ends of the ice, and is probably the Capitals most complete defenseman.
If Carlson can remain healthy and play a full 82 games, he can probably pass his career high of 55 points that was set back in 2014-15.
BRADEN HOLTBY WILL FALL SHORT OF 48 WINS
Holtby had an amazing year in 2015-16. Besides Alex Ovechkin, he was the Capitals most consistent player all season long.
Holtby had 8 more wins than Jonathan Quick, who was 2nd among NHL goaltenders in the wins category. Holtby tied Martin Brodeur’s record for wins in a single season, and took home the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s Top Goaltender over the summer.
So can Holtby do it again? Holtby should come close to the 48 wins mark that he set last season, but he will probably fall a couple of games short. Pencil him in for 46 wins and the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy once again. It is expected that Philipp Grubauer could get a few more starts in 2016-17, in order to give Braden Holtby some additional rest for a long postseason run.
By: George Foussekis