A Change Is Gonna Come: The Capitals 2022-23 Season Will Be The Last Of The “Reloads”

The 2023 off-season could see the largest change in player personnel for the Capitals in recent memory, as no less than 13 players on the Capitals current 22-man roster have expiring deals at the end of the season. 14 of 23 if you include Carl Hagelin, who is currently on injured reserve.

That’s approximately 60% of the roster that are in the final year of their current contractsIt’s also important to note that Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette has an expiring deal at the end of this season.

The Capitals current forward group has a total of eight expiring deals at the end of this season, or approximately 57% of the group.

  • Connor Brown (UFA)
  • Lars Eller (UFA)
  • Garnet Hathaway (UFA)
  • Connor Sheary (UFA)
  • Marcus Johansson (UFA)
  • Carl Hagelin (UFA)
  • Dylan Strome (RFA)
  • Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (RFA)

With the exception of John Carlson, all other defensemen currently on the Capitals roster have expiring deals at the end of this season.

  • Dmitry Orlov (UFA)
  • Nick Jensen (UFA)
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk (UFA)
  • Erik Gustafsson (UFA)
  • Matt Irwin (UFA)
  • Martin Fehervary (RFA)

It’s difficult to ascertain with certainty if Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan shaped existing contracts with a general intention for a planned “rebuild” following the 2022-23 season, although the situation certainly has all the markings for planned restructuring. Either that or it’s simply a huge coincidence that a majority of the team’s contracts expire after this season. Some of it is certainly happenstance.

Regardless, what MacLellan does and doesn’t do over the next 10 months will have a long-lasting affect on the organization for the next five years or so. And that should be considered a good thing, if MacLellan can make the right moves. The timing will allow for the team to move on from older players, inject additional youth, update skill sets and give MacLellan another chance to improve the Capitals standing within the league’s salary cap structure.

It should also be mentioned that the Capitals could re-sign a decent percentage of the aforementioned free agents, although it’s likely a good percentage will be gone in free agency.

A “rebuild” can span more than one off-season. However, as we’ve stated here before, many fans and pundits won’t formally classify a “rebuild” until Alex Ovechkin retires, even though there could be very few (if any) other changes that coincide with his retirement. One could make a case for saying the rebuild has already begun.

I reached out to several of the agents for players with expiring contracts, to try and get a sense of who, if any, of the players have begun (re)negotiations with the team, but didn’t  received replies prior to the time of this writing. I’ll keep you posted.

The Capitals open training camp on Wednesday with off-ice activities and get to work on the ice starting on Thursday.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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20 Responses to A Change Is Gonna Come: The Capitals 2022-23 Season Will Be The Last Of The “Reloads”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The “rebuild” is indeed underway and will conclude with Ovechkin’s retirement.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Tank hard for Bedard!

  3. Christopher Stephans says:

    2023 marks blow up and redo time. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Hopefully it won’t go as painfully as the Nats’.

  4. novafyre says:

    I do not like rebuilds. I prefer a gradual evolution.

    The Wales just nixed moving into Windsor Castle because they have already moved once this year, the kids have all changed schools, and Gan Gan had her Platinum Jubilee and then died. They sensibly said, that’s enough change and upset for one year.

    Should be the same for teams. Evolve.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Appreciate your guys straight take on things, and not the spoon-fed Pollyanna portrayed on other sites.

  6. DWGie26 says:

    With NovaFyre. I prefer a gradual rebuild.

    What I love about this season is it is one big audition on talent, effort, and chemistry. Hard to predict who will be resigned and who will be cut lose. Does Brown fit in? Does Strome look like a legit 2C? Does Backstrom come back. Does Borgstrom develop. Does McMichael earn the long term 3C role. Can Snively return to form prior to injury as a speedy scoring threat? Does Fever prove he is a top 4 dee. What happens with the mess that is 3LD? How does TVR do on right side? Can Leason and AJF make Sheary and Hathaway expendable? Can we resign Jensen and Orlov at value?

    We should all be excited about the competition that looms because that will raise everyone’s game. The coach and GM are well aware of the expiring contracts and needing to find the right chemistry so I do believe there will be jersey’s given to those that perform both on the ice and where we don’t always see it (locker room, work ethic, film study, etc). So I am excited to watch and see how it all unfolds.

  7. Mike J says:

    Definitely rather tear it down all at once and rebuild than a slow painful rebuild that nets you the 15th pick every year instead of a top 3-5 difference maker each draft. I mean we tore it down for Ovi and it worked out.

    • DWGie26 says:

      It did work. Doesn’t always. Plenty of examples of that. And it took us 13 years to win a Cup. And many don’t make it there. I understand why Chicago and Philly are doing it because they already suck. We don’t. Tear down rebuilds are risky and painfully slow. We saw that with Ovi as well. Only thing that made it palatable was we had the most exciting young star in the game.

    • novafyre says:

      Replacing 2 or 3 older players with younger ones should be an evolution, not a slow painful rebuild. Show me a team in the salary cap era that has kept all roster players from the previous year. Name one. You can’t. Players will retire, will sign elsewhere, will be traded, and replacements will come in. I would rather see younger replacements rather than Chara, Thornton, or Jagr. Bring up those players that you thought well enough of to draft and who have been playing well in the lower leagues. Don’t keep hiring AARP members until the crash comes and everyone has to be replaced at once.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Depends on a lot of unknowns…. good pipeline and lots of players like GH and CS should be resigned…

  9. Marky says:

    Agree John this offseason is a big one in that Bmac can make any level of change and has a lot of flexibility too. I think there will be a big turnover and a lot of Hershey guys will get permanent spots this year and next. Can’t wait for this season though. Let’s Go Caps!!

  10. toemac says:

    It’s not just the Caps. Check out Hershey and the non-roster players. Half of them are gone next year too.

  11. scott sheard says:

    Looking forward to the new season.
    Not a fan of baseball or football!
    Going to watch Washington and root for Sam in toronto

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