Washington Capitals Forwards Review: Washington might have the best top line in the NHL with Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and T.J. Oshie. Washington will contend if those 3 forwards play all 82 games. Ovechkin and Backstrom played all 82 games during the regular season and that's one reason why the Capitals dominated last season.
Washington has great depth behind Backstrom at center. Evgeny Kuznetsov is a great line 2 center behind Backstrom. He also beat out Backstrom in training camp to be the line 1 center on Washington's power play. Lars Eller is a good line 3 center and Jay Beagle, Washington's fourth line center will be on the top line for penalty killing situations since he's great on defense.
Backstrom is going to be the line 1 guy who gets a lot of minutes. He'll also get to play on the second line of the power play unit and the second line of the penalty killing unit so while he gets a lot of minutes there won't be that pressure on him to carry this team.
Justin Williams left the Capitals. Washington replaced him with a mediocre Brett Connolly who was drafted sixth overall back in 2010 only to end up on his third NHL team. Washington's offense won't be as effective without Williams.
Jakub Vrana, Washington's 2014 first round pick and Tom Wilson Washington's 2012 first round pick need to step up this year and become breakout players. How they perform will determine if Washington wins the Presidents Trophy for a third year in a row or whether Washington is fighting for a wild card spot.
Washington only has 4 forwards out of 12 that had 40 points or more last season. Every other team in the Metropolitan Division has more forwards with 40 points then the Washington Capitals, but the Capitals may still have the best front line in the Eastern Conference with Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Oshie plus there is stability at center. That's why Washington will get back to the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but Washington is a team that is probably going to lose in the opening round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Washington ranked 3rd in the NHL in goals scored and 3rd on the power play in 2016-2017. Losing Justin Williams to the Carolina Hurricanes really hurts them and that could cause their power play to decline. At the same time, there is too much talent on the Capitals front 6 for this team to fall out of the top 10 in the power play. I don't think they are a top 5 team in the power play.
Washington Capitals Defensive Lines
Washington Capitals Defensemen Review Washington is going to pay for letting Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner walk. Shattekirk had 17 more points than anyone on this blue line and was the one player that could play like an NHL All Star. Alzner has three consecutive season where he played all 82 games and is extremely durable after being a top 5 pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Matt Niskanen can be an effective complimentary player on the first line, but he has no business anchoring a top line. Orlov and Orpik both struggled during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Washington probably should have bought out Orpik and made an attempt to bring back Shattenkirk or Alzner.
With Shattenkirk, Niskanen, Orlov, Alzner, Carlsson, and Orpik this blue line was very lethal in 2016-2017. Losing Shattenkirk and Alzner makes this team very suspect when you consider Niskanen is now 30 and Orpik showed signs of declining last season.
I loved Madison Bowey coming out of the Kelowna Rockets. He'll get his chance to anchor a third line and I'm happy for Bowey. At the same time Christina Djoos is a 169 lb defenseman who was a seventh round pick in 2012. Djoos belongs on the Hershey Bears in the AHL and has no business on this Capitals roster.
Washington ranked 1st in goals allowed and 7th in penalty killing in 2016-2017. Without Shattenkirk and Alzner those numbers are certainly going to decline.
Draft Utopia Between The Pipes Goalie Tracker
Goals Against Average
Goals Against Average
Washington Capitals Goaltender Review Braden Holtby continued to flash with a quality defense. Phillip Grubauer actually played better than Holby and continues to develop confidence. You also got 2015 first round pick Ilya Samsonov ready to anchor the Hershey Bears in the AHL and you can bring him up if either goalie gets injured. Washington has a great situation at goalie, but these goalies could easily decline without quality defensemen around them.
Washington Capitals Prospect Pool: Washington drafted four more players to their prospect pool in 2015 including goalie Ilya Samsonov, defenseman Jonas Siegenhaler, defenseman Connor Hobbs, and defenseman Colby Williams. Once these defensemen from the 2015 NHL Draft gain some experience they need to be called up to the NHL ASAP. I really like Hobbs and I think any of these defensemen would help the team more than Ajoos.
Washington Capitals 2017-2018 Prediction
Washington has enough talent to still be a top 3 team in the Metropolitian with Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Oshie on their first line along their goaltending.
Two things worry me immensely with the Capitals. One they have fewer 40 point scorers than any of the 8 teams in the Metropolitian Division. Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, both New York teams, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh all have more 40 point scorers than the Capitals. Letting go of Justin Williams was an extremely foolish decision even though they probably couldn't afford to pay him.
The second thing that worries me is the departure of Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner. You got a lot of teams that have defensemen who anchor their blue line in the Eastern Conference. Washington doesn't have that. Boston has the Chara and Carlo tandem. Pittsburgh has Letang, Schultz, Dumuolin, and Maata. Those three got experience on the top line when Letang was out for the entire 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and all three stepped up for the Penguins. Columbus has the Seth Jones Zach Werenski tandem. Montreal has Shea Weber and Alzer who left your team in Free Agency. Ottawa still has Karlsson and Phaneuf. Carolina has Faulk, but they lack a blue chip player like Ovechkin at forward even though their 8 40 point scorers at forward double Washington's 4 meaning even they could beat the Capitals since they have an excellent defense along with a better penalty killing unit as well.
Even teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers match up well against this team since Tampa Bay has Hedman, Florida has Ekblad, and the Rangers have Shattenkirk because you let him walk.
Washington has to win the Presidents Trophy for a third year in a row and draw a team with a weak defense like the Islanders or Toronto again if they want to make any kind of playoff run. I don't think the Capitals have it in them and I see Pittsburgh and Columbus as the two best teams in the Metropolitian Division this year. Even if Washington manages to secure a top 3 seed they just look like a one-and-done team plus they blew their window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup the last two years and now that window appears to have passed.
If you play for the Washington Capitals and are reading this that's good. Get fired up! Get pissed! Go ahead and use this as motivation to smack someone in the mouth with your stick and prove me wrong until the NHL Officials send your punk ass to the penalty box. Channel that rage and use it as your fuel to win the 2018 Stanley Cup because your team has a reputation for choking in the playoffs.
That's not going away unless you actually do something in April and win. It's really at the point where you have to dismiss the Capitals until they actually deliver in the playoffs.
With the talent they lost and the departures of Williams, Shattenkirk, and Alzner I'm saying this team is one-and-done. Heck, I even debated over whether to give them a wild card spot instead of a top 3 spot in this division which should speak volumes about how overrated I think this team is heading into the 2017-2018 NHL Season.
Click the link below to get information on Washington's AHL partner, the Hershey Bears.