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With NHL free agency frenzy under way, the Washington Capitals have been fairly quiet. With a Stanley Cup celebration happening over the next few weeks, the Capitals have not had to make major changes to the roster.
With the departure of Jay Beagle to the Vancouver Canucks, and with the signing of Nic Dowd, the Washington Capitals will have a different look on the 4th line next season. Beagle was a mainstay on the Capitals 4th line for many years, and cashed out with his new deal in Vancouver. With the loss of Beagle, the Capitals lose a key faceoff dot and penalty killing specialist.
Even with Beagle out of the picture, the Capitals are in good shape for the 2018-19 season. They will deploy a different looking 4th line, and this new looking line might have more speed on it.
OPTIONS AT CENTER ICE
Depending on the matchups, the Capitals have options in the 4th line center position. The Capitals have multiple players who have experience playing the center position. Chandler Stephenson is one of the Capitals most flexible players, as he can play the centre or wing position. Stephenson will likely start next season playing as a wing, but the Capitals can slide him down in the lineup if they need to.
Nic Dowd spent some time in Los Angeles and Vancouver last season. He played the centre position for both of those organizations. In addition to Dowd, Travis Boyd has played the center position before when he played for the Hershey Bears.
GREAT MIX OF SPEED AND SIZE
Depending on the matchups, the Capitals can throw various combinations out on the ice for the 4th line. If the Capitals want more size in the lineup, they have bigger players like Nic Dowd and Devante Smith-Pelly that they can throw out there. If the Capitals want more speed in their 4th line matchup, they have players like Nathan Walker and Travis Boyd in the mix.
The Capitals will have plenty of flexibility with the lineup. The Capitals should have plenty of competition as they enter training camp next season. With a healthy competition for roster spots, players will compete harder to remain in the lineup.
THE NEXT WAVE
The Capitals are in a good position as an organization. With open spots on the 4th line, there will be plenty of internal competition.
It will be interesting to see the next wave of players competing for roster spots. Shane Gersich is a player that could push for a roster spot in the Capitals next wave. Some other names that could soon have an impact include Brian Pinho and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby.
The Capitals have strong continuity throughout the organization when it comes to drafting and developing young players. The Capitals have some young players in the system that could make an impact in the NHL very soon.
By: George Foussekis