Heading in to the summer free agency period, the Washington Capitals are tight up against the salary cap. When free agency began on July 1, the Capitals went bargain shopping for some players to round out the bottom-six forward rotation in their lineup.
The Capitals management team did well with the pro scouting. They brought three players into the organization – Richard Panik, Garnet Hathaway, and Brendan Leipsic. These three players will fill the holes left behind by players like Brett Connolly and Andre Burakovsky, who are no longer with the organization.
SPECIAL AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT
The biggest areas of improvement for the Capitals will be on special teams. Richard Panik, who came to the Capitals from the Arizona Coyotes, was ranked 4th among all Coyote forwards in powerplay time on ice a season ago. In addition to his ample powerplay time, he was ranked 6th among Coyote forwards in penalty killing time on ice.
Garnet Hathaway is a player that brings plenty of toughness to the Capitals bottom-six forward rotation. In addition to his tough physical style, he adds to the Capitals special teams with his reliable penalty killing. He ranked 4th among Calgary forwards in shorthanded penalty killing time on ice a season ago.
After splitting some time between Vancouver and Los Angeles a season ago, Brendan Leipsic signed with the Capitals in hopes to fill a fourth line void. Leipsic earned some powerplay with the Kings a season ago. Leipsic will bring lots of speed and energy to the Capitals 4th line.
Garnet Hathaway is a ferocious hitter on the ice. His 200 total hits from a season ago are right up in the ranks with Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson.
Richard Panik does not mind to throw his weight around too. Panik finished last season with 137 hits, which was ranked 5th among all Coyote skaters. His hit totals would have ranked him 4th among Capitals skaters.
BLUE COLLAR MOVES
With limited amounts of cap space, the Capitals had to go after players that were only depth additions.
The Capitals received plenty of value with these signings. These players can contribute in all situations, which is a great commodity for the Capitals. These additions will make the Capitals top-six players not used in most situations, and it will give the coaching staff more flexibility on lineup deployment.
The Capitals were not the best penalty killing team a season ago, but their additions should contribute in that area nicely. Richard Panik and Garnet Hathaway should eat up more penalty killing time, which should alleviate players like Tom Wilson and T.J. Oshie from those duties.
By: George Foussekis