The Washington Capitals will enter training camp in a few weeks with a number of open roster spots. As many as three, possibly four prospects could make the opening night roster, with two of those players potentially starting on the backend. This article takes a “big picture” view of the Capitals backend, and how it will likely evolve over the next 24 months.
It’s been quite a few years since the Capitals had this many open roster spots to be battled-out in training camp. It’s fairly safe to say that the team will have a new look when they take the ice on Opening Night on October 5 in Ottawa.
However, the overall plan for the Capitals’ defense is starting to take shape, and is becoming much clearer, with indications of how things are likely to unfold over the next 24 months.
THE 24-MONTH ROAD MAP
The 24-month road map presents the path for transitioning the Capitals’ defensive personnel. The good news, is that in 24-months the Capitals will be a much younger and faster team, and take significant steps to alleviate the penny-pinching salary cap issues of today. Here’s how it will go.
Blue = changes made in 2017 training camp
Green = Changes made in 2018 training camp
The likely scenario has Taylor Chorney, Christian Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler battling it out for the opportunity to pair with John Carlson on the second defensive pairing (2LD). Two of the three prospects could potentially make this season’s roster, with the second player assuming the seventh defenseman spot.
On the right side, Madison Bowey, Tyler Lewington and Connor Hobbs will battle it out this September for the opportunity to be paired with Brooks Orpik. Again, depending on performance in the rookie tournament and training camp, one of these players could also assume the seventh defenseman role. Carlson and Orpik will be the teachers this season. A lot will depend on how fast the kids pick things up.
The projected defensive roster for opening night 2017:
In the mix: Madison Bowey
Unfortuantely the 2018 plan has John Carlson saying goodbye to the Capitals organization at the end of the 2017-2018 season. Carlson, who will be 28-years old next summer, will be an unrestricted free agent and looking to cash-in on what could be his last big contract of his career. (A very similar exit to Karl Alzner’s exit.) However, Carlson’s exit will make fiscal room for a Top 6 free agent forward signing on July 1, 2018. (Hello re-opening “window”!). A list of next summers free agent forwards is here.
The projected defensive roster for opening night 2018:
In the mix: Tyler Lewington
Obviously things are a little less clear with regards to the 2018 Opening Night roster. A lot will depend on individual performance and work and development in Hershey by each of the players. Additionally, the phasing out of Brooks Orpik will occur over the next 12-24 months. How fast this happens will affect final roster makeup along the way.
- The general plan is based on tendencies established by head coach Barry Trotz and Washington Capitals magement; i.e. primarily using defensemen on their stick/shot side. It’s certainly possible players could be slotted on a non-stick side.
- Of course all of this depends on several prospects making the leap. Players like Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos have been “developed” long enough. The next 24 months are “now or never” for them.
- The plan only considers players currently signed by the Washington Capitals organization, and does not consider potential free agent/PTO signings over the next 24 months.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
The Capitals organization is stacked with defensive prospects, which should start to show rewards this season, and for quite a few seasons to follow. The Capitals will be a much younger, faster team in 24 months. That you can count on, regardless of transitioning specifics.
The aforementioned two-year plan will alleviate current salary cap pressures by reducing the defensive payroll by as much as $5-9 million in total – money that can be used to upgrade the forwards, starting on July 1, 2018.
If we have to talk “windows”, this will open an ideal two-year window starting with the 2018-2019 season.
As Training Camp Nears, Will the Capitals Invite any UFA Defensemen?
Is there a Trade Market for Defensemen for the Capitals?
Could Lucas Johansen Make the Capitals this Fall?
Will the Capitals Defense be Alright?
Video Evaluation Of Hershey Bears Players And How They Fit With The Capitals – Part 2: Other Defensemen
Video Evaluation Of Hershey Bears Players And How They Fit With The Capitals – Part 1: Christian Djoos
By Jon Sorensen