Last season, Washington was the odds on favourite to win the Stanley Cup, but once again, fell short in the playoffs. The Capitals lost in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. A case could be made that had Washington won that game seven instead of Pittsburgh, they might have been the ones to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. Regardless, it was another disappointin season for the Caps.
Salary cap concerns have forced the Caps to trade Marcus Johansson and not bring back Justin Williams, Karl Alzner or Kevin Shattenkirk in order to re-sign T.J. Oshie, Dmitry Orlov and Evgeny Kuznetsov to new contracts. They also lost defenseman Nate Schmidt to the expansion draft.
Their defense took a massive hit this off-season by losing three of their top seven rearguards in Shattenkirk, Alzner and the aforementioned Schmidt. There is a huge opportunity for promotion from within for that number two third-pairing defensemen.
Ovechkin failed to score at a 50-goal clip for the first time since the 2011-12 season. He had 32 in the 48-game lockout season, which is nearly a 55-goal pace.
I know what you’re all thinking, is Ovechkin done as an elite scorer in the NHL? This was probably a bad season to make that assessment, but yeah, I think it’s obvious that his best days are behind him. He will be 32 years old as the season gets underway, and due to cap concerns, the Caps are a weaker team. Ovechkin has played in 921 regular season NHL games, and with how physical he plays, he’s got some wear and tear on his body.
This is also an Olympic year, and whether he defies the NHL and tries to represent his country, or it simply serves as a distraction, it is likely to affect his performance this season.
The trading of Marcus Johansson and decision to not bring Williams back gives Burakovsky a huge opportunity at sticking in the top six this year. Dare I say he’s a lock? The 22 year old just signed a two-year, $6 million dollar contract. He will be looking for a breakout season after recording 38 points two seasons ago. Burakovsky also scored a respectable 35 points in only 64 games last year.
Burakovsky should see a nice uptick on the 13:15 of ice time per game he received last year. If he can play his way onto the No. 1 power-play unit, he is certain to set new career highs. The opportunity is there for the taking, let’s see if he can take advantage.
As with Burakovsky, Connolly has a legitimate shot at playing with some serious talent. The versatile 25 year old can play both wings and has a real shot to seize a top-six role. Fo