On the eve of the on-ice training camp, the Capitals and media teams converged yesterday at the MedStar Ice Complex for the annual Media Day before hitting the ice tomorrow on Day 1 of training camp. While optimism for the upcoming season is certainly running high, the Capitals are looking to build up from this year’s longer summer. “Few teams have the roster that our team does,” said Coach Reirden “Last year was a missed opportunity”.
While the early exit in the 2018-2019 season was disappointing, the team made key additions to its roster for this year, including Radko Gudas, Garret Hathaway, Brendan Leipsic and Richard Panik.
The hard hitting and frequently controversial Gudas seems to be a good fit to the Capitals defense after the loss of Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Gudas will increase the physicality of play at the blue line, and add veteran leadership on the backend.
Hathaway, Panik, and Leipsic may be Reirden’s choice approach for building-out and strengthening the bottom six; placing positions for veteran Capitals Travis Boyd and Chandler Stephenson in question. “It’s a competition, they [Boyd and Stephenson] know it’s a competition. They’re well informed,” said Reirden.
Tom Wilson says the new additions will lend a reputation that they Capitals are a “team who is hard to play against. We added some weight. Gudy, Hathaway, Panik, they can skate they can play physical, they continue to make our team more well-rounded”.
Braden Holtby felt similarly, especially regarding the loss of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanaen. While he acknowledged that there is always and adjustment period he said, “the guys that they brought in and are coming up are really good players”.
The new players all feel as if they are good fit for the fast-moving Capitals. Leipsic said, “it’s a really good spot for me to try and find some traction; play with some good players and hopefully take advantage of the opportunity that I get”.
Gudas said his biggest challenge is learning the system. “Defensively, I don’t feel like I need to change the way I play, I just need to learn the system”. He went on to say that, “it’s been a smooth transition for me so far from everybody that’s been around me. I am really happy it’s going this way”. While Panik feels his largest contribution on the team will be on the penalty kill.
— Rocks Red (@StpJudge) September 12, 2019
The new Captials team members seem to fit Coach Rierden’s goals to make slight adjustments that reap great rewards for the team, helping them to be skate more, aggressively pursue the puck, and achieve their goal of re-claiming the Stanley Cup in 2020.
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) September 12, 2019
By Stephanie Judge