It has been a long summer of re-tooling for Capitals management. In 2017-18, the Capitals will have a fresh new look, with plenty of new faces in their lineup.
With the likes of Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams, and others gone from the Presidents’ Trophy winning Capitals team, the Capitals will need some current players to continue to grow and evolve their games over the course of next year.
Which Capitals will need to step up and take the next steps in their development in 2017-18? Who will the Capitals lean on for more offensive production? Who should Capitals fans expect big things from in the new season?
Capitals fans saw the best of Andre Burakovsky against Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Burakovsky will see Top 6 minutes next season and will likely start out with Evgeny Kuznetsov on the Capitals second line.
Burakovsky has shown flashes of high goal scoring upside. In other moments, he has looked invisible. Burakovsky will need to show a level of consistency as he steps into a bigger role next season.
Carlson has been as steady as they come on the Capitals blueline, but he will likely need to elevate his game next season. Carlson will likely be paired with a new defensive partner at the start of next season. His new defensive partner is yet to be determined, as that will be tested thoroughly during the preseason. Carlson will likely see his icetime go up as the defensive partner he is paired with will likely be a rookie defenseman or Taylor Chorney.
Vrana will likely have the best shot at cracking the Capitals opening night roster out of training camp. Vrana’s skill set will likely land him on the Capitals second or third line. He will likely see some powerplay time throughout the season. Vrana will need to show Capitals management that he can be a consistent player at the NHL level.
Like Burakovsky, Wilson could also see some time on the Capitals second line throughout next season. Wilson will need to continue to develop his offensive game, as he has not scored more than 7 goals during a single regular season.
By: George Foussekis