Photo: Washington Capitals
Just in case you missed it, defenseman and Alternate Captain Brooks Orpik was part of a trade with the Colorado Avalanche just before the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Shortly thereafter, Avalanche management bought Orpik out of his contract, leaving him as a free agent. The rumor mills have been swirling for some time now that the Caps have shown interest in re-signing him at a discounted price, but as the days pass by, we still have no word on any potential contract for #44. So, assuming Orpik does not return to the Capitals lineup in October, the Capitals will need to assign the second Alternate Captain title to someone else. Who could it be? Let’s take a look at some of the candidates.
Option 1: T.J. Oshie
Oshie is a household name in the NHL, especially among Capitals and St. Louis Blues fans. He has been a Top Six performer for almost all of his career and has been a fan favorite the entire length of it. He is also an Olympic hockey hero and has even worn the A in Washington for a few games, most notably during the Caps’ playoff run this past season.
During the 2017-18 regular season, he was treating a long-lasting injury and wasn’t able to achieve as many goals as he is usually capable of. But in the later half of the season, as he recovered, he began to pick up steam. Oshie is a perfect fit for Alternate Captaincy, and in my personal opinion, the most deserving player on the squad. If it were left to me, T.J. would get the A.
Oshie, acting as Alternate Captain in the 2018 Playoffs while Nicklas Backstrom recovered from an upper body injury.
Option 2: John Carlson
Carlson has been the talk of the town all season, and well into the summer as well. During both the regular season and the post season, Carlson led the league in points by a defensemen. He, alongside John Tavares, was one of hottest free agents coming into the offseason. However, thanks to GMBM, Carlson won’t be going anywhere, as he re-signed with the Capitals before free agency began.
So keeping in mind, he sets the defensemen bar across the NHL and that he’ll be with Washington for another eight years (more than likely retiring as a Capital somewhere down the line), Carlson seems to be another great candidate to accompany Nicklas Backstrom as an Alternate Captain for the Capitals. One more major piece that keeps Carlson in the race is simply that even before the numbers, he is a blue liner. Most teams have one Alternate forward and one Defenseman. Backstrom and Oshie as a pair would leave the blue line entirely unrepresented in the letter department. That alone could keep Carlson’s name in the hat.
Option 3: Evgeny Kuznetsov
Another big name on the team who has a ton of leadership potential is Evgeny Kuztensov. Kuzy has always been a key player for Washington and had an exceptionally powerful showing in the 2018 playoffs. If there was ever a time to appoint him as an Alternate Captain, that time is now.
Kuznetsov scored 12 goals and 20 assists this post season, and 28 goals in the regular season. Like Oshie before him, one thing that holds Kuzy back is that he is a forward, like Backstrom. However, Kuznetsov is a stand out player for the team, on whom the A would look very becoming. Interestingly enough, in my first article as part of the NoVa Caps team, I mentioned Kuzy as a viable candidate for Captaincy as well.
Kuznetsov, scoring the goal that defeated the Penguins in the 2018 playoffs
So who do you think would make the best replacement for Alternate Captain? Someone on this list? Somebody else? Tell us in the comments below!
By: Chris Laroche
Oshie is the best candidate, based on leadership qualities, but Carlson will likely get the “A” due to factors you noted.
Carlson because you need a D on the A list. If you want Oshie then you have to take the A from Backie. Kuzy would be good but you never want all you A on the O or on a line with the Capt.
Oshie, I would say. Both Kuzy and Carlson should get their chance in the future, they are still quite young (especially Kuzy).