The Capitals have important pieces due for raises this summer, the most notable being defenseman John Carlson. While a lot of important players are up for a new contract after this season, Head Coach Barry Trotz will also be in need of a contract renewal.
When Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that the Capitals gave general manager Brian MacLellan a multi-year contract extension during the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada telecast during the Stadium Series game between the Capitals and Maple Leafs on Saturday night, Elliotte Freidman and Chris Johnston also talked about Trotz’s future on the telecast.
Johnston said that Trotz’s future in Washington is “very uncertain” and if the Capitals do not sign him soon that other teams will be calling for his services.
Trotz has led the Capitals to a President’s Trophy win in each of the past two seasons and is on his way to leading the team to their third consecutive Metropolitan Division title. Entering Sunday, the Capitals are two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and three ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Capitals and Flyers each have a game in hand on the Penguins.
Trotz recently coached his 1,500th NHL game on February 17 against the Chicago Blackhawks, becoming the fifth coach in NHL history to do so. He is 750-563-134 in his career, good for a .562 win percentage. In his career in Washington, he has a record of 193-84-34 in 311 games coached with the team, which is good for a .675 win percentage.
In his four-year tenure in Washington, he has been named head coach at the NHL All-Star Game twice, an assistant coach for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, and the winner of the Jack Adams Award, which is awarded to the coach of the year, in 2016.
Despite his impressive regular season success in Washington, he is only 20-19 in 39 postseason contests in his career with the Capitals and has never gotten past the second round in his tenure as an NHL head coach. The Capitals have not advanced beyond the second round since 1998, when they went to their lone Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. His lack of playoff success has continued in Washington despite winning the Presidents’ Trophy two years in a row with the Capitals.
At the end of last season when MacLellan was asked if a possible contract extension would be discussed with Trotz over the summer, he said “We haven’t talked anything about a contract yet. Maybe we do going forward. I think we’re in a period here of uncertainty where we have to drill down some specific stuff. I think we needed improvements throughout our organization, myself included. I think once there’s evidence of those improvements, a contract extension could take place.”
It is also important to note that the Capitals did not allow assistant coach Todd Reirden to talk about a possible head coaching job with another team when three other teams asked the Capitals to interview him.
MacLellan and the Capitals most likely will not want to discuss a contract extension with Trotz until after the season. If the Capitals fall in the first or second round again, Trotz may very well need to look for a new job.
For now, Trotz has led the Capitals to the Metropolitan Division lead despite losing 20-goal scorers Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson, top-four defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner, and up-and-coming defenseman Nate Schmidt, who was expected to fill Alzner’s spot on the second defensive pair next to John Carlson in the offseason. Matt Niskanen and Andre Burakovsky also missed significant time due to injuries at the beginning of the year.
He has also done a great job getting Alex Ovechkin back to his old self after his scoring dipped from 50 in 2015-16 to 33 last season. This season, Ovechkin is on pace for his eighth 50-goal season after scoring his 40th goal of the season last night as a 32-year old.
Trotz has done a great job getting a team with mediocre expectations at the start of the season to lead them to the top of the toughest division in the league. Right now, the Capitals are on pace to finish with 47 wins and 102 points even after their significant roster turnover last summer. But if the Capitals fail to reach at least the conference final, Barry Trotz could be in search of a new job in June.
By Harrison Brown