It has been another long summer for the Washington Capitals. After failing to capture the Stanley Cup in 2016-17, the Capitals have had to make some significant changes during the offseason.
With players like Marcus Johansson and Karl Alzner playing for new clubs next season, the Capitals will have a fresh look in 2017-18. While the Capitals will likely not be as good as they have been the last 2 years, the Capitals should still have a competitive club in 2017-18.
Why will the Capitals remain a good club for the upcoming season? Here are 5 reasons why:
STRONG CENTER DEPTH
The Capitals have strong depth in the middle of the ice. The Capitals have arguably one of the best 1-2 punches up the middle with Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Both players can produce a lot of points, as they are dynamic playmakers on the ice.
Besides Kuznetsov and Backstrom, the Capitals depth continues with Lars Eller and Jay Beagle. Beagle is one of the NHL’s top centers in the faceoff circle. Eller has given the Capitals extra speed and good defensive play in the middle of the ice.
Holtby is one of the best goaltenders in an NHL net right now. Holtby has given the Capitals 3 straight 40+ win seasons, and he won the Vezina Trophy in 2016. His stellar 2.07 goals against average and .925 save percentage were among the league’s best in 2016-17.
The Capitals will likely have 1-2 new defensemen in their 2017-18 lineup. The good news for the Capitals is that they have a lot of candidates for those positions. Lucas Johansen, Madison Bowey, Jonas Siegenthaler, Tyler Lewington, and Christian Djoos will be competing for the Capitals remaining roster spots during training camp. Competition within an organization is never a bad thing. Competition from within creates a stronger, more cohesive unit.
STRONG SPECIAL TEAMS
If the Capitals continue to execute well on special teams like they have in recent seasons, that will keep their offensive attack healthy. The Capitals powerplay was 23.1% effective, which was 3rd best in the NHL, and the penalty kill was 83.8% effective, which was 7th best in the NHL. Good special teams can keep teams in the playoff hunt.
The Capitals have plenty of players who have not hit their top potential yet. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Tom Wilson, and Dmitry Orlov are all 25 years of age or younger and have not hit their peaks.
The Capitals have a strong core group, and the younger portion of their core group is only going to improve over the years to come.
By: George Foussekis