The Capitals have made some major changes to their lineup over the course of the summer. There will be plenty of new faces, and plenty of competition for the remaining roster spots.
Besides the goaltender position, the Capitals have holes that need to be filled during training camp. There could be multiple positions filled at forward and on defense during training camp. Let’s dive into the lineup changes and let’s look at the new faces that could possibly crack the Capitals opening night roster.
NEW LOOK SECOND LINE
With Marcus Johansson now in New Jersey and Justin Williams in Carolina, Evgeny Kuznetsov will be anchoring some different players on his line.
Since Andre Burakovsky re-upped on a new 2-year deal over the summer, he will likely be one of Kuznetsov’s primary linemates. The other wing spot will likely be filled by Jakub Vrana or Tom Wilson.
Depending on the matchup, Trotz has options for the second line. Burakovsky, Vrana, and Wilson all have upside in their game and they have not hit their full potentials. With Kuznetsov’s game noticeably rising, he will be able to elevate the play of his linemates.
NEW LOOK FOURTH LINE
While the Capitals second line will likely see some changes, the fourth line should see some new faces in 2017-18. Daniel Winnik is gone, and Brett Connolly and Tom Wilson will likely be moved up in the Capitals lineup.
The Capitals will likely replace Winnik with a player from the Hershey Bears. Riley Barber, Nathan Walker, Travis Boyd, and Chandler Stephenson are some of the names that could be competing for 4th line roster spots. During the offseason, the Capitals added Devante Smith-Pelly and Anthony Peluso for additional depth and these players could also be in the mix for 4th line spots.
PLUGGING THE DEFENSIVE HOLES
With Karl Alzner now in Montreal, Kevin Shattenkirk in New York, and Nate Schmidt in Las Vegas, the Capitals will have some holes to fill on the blueline.
The Capitals are expected to keep the pair of Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen together. John Carlson and Brooks Orpik will likely have young defensive partners. The Capitals will likely fill their defensive holes with players from the Hershey Bears.
Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, Jonas Siegenthaler, Aaron Ness, and Tyler Lewington are players that are expected to compete for the Capitals remaining roster spots on defense.
WHO ARE THE LOCKS TO MAKE THE CAPITALS?
As far as the newcomers go, the only real lock is Jakub Vrana. He will likely flip between the second and third lines throughout the regular season, and he will likely see some powerplay time on the Capitals 2nd unit.
On the blueline, the Capitals have some experienced veterans within the organization. Madison Bowey, Aaron Ness, and Christian Djoos are the likely front runners to fill some of the holes for the Capitals based on experience alone. All the defensemen mentioned have at least 100 games of AHL experience.
By: George Foussekis