We’re less than 31 days away from the beginning of the 2017/18 season. Today we continue to dive into the 31 NHL teams in alphabetical order, take a look at their previous standings and upcoming season predictions, as well as their key additions and subtractions. Yesterday we looked at the Vegas Golden Knights and today we turn to my former bandwagon team: the Washington Capitals.
2016/17 record: 55-19-8
Key additions: Devante Smith-Pelly
2017/18 prediction: Exit in the first round of the playoffs
Another year older, another year w…..orse. The Washington Capitals, perennial Presidents Trophy favorites and playoffs flunkies knew going into the summer that it would be a defining offseason for the team. With T.J. Oshie, Karl Alzner, Justin Williams, Kevin Shattenkirk, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Andre Burakovsky all in need of new contracts. With only so much salary cap space to go around, touch choices would be made. And they were.
With half of their defense corps eligible for new contracts, the Capitals needed to retain at least one of these defensemen, which is all that they were able to do. Dmirty Orlov was awarded a 6 year, $30.6 million contract while Alzner headed to Montreal and Shattenkirk become a Ranger. They also lost Nate Schmidt on defense to the Golden Knights in the expansion draft. The Caps were also only able to retain Kuznetsov, Oshie and Burakovsky up front, as Marcus Johansson was dealt to the New Jersey Devils and Justin Williams returned to Carolina.
So with all of these changes, what chance do the Capitals have of winning the Stanley Cup this year? Not good. The Capitals are returning with essentially the same squad as last year, but with pieces removed. 2014 first round pick Jakub Vrana will be leaned on the make the team and become a crucial part of this roster moving forward. The Capitals will need additional help like this if they have any hope of even reaching the elusive conference finals.
Will the Capitals make the playoffs? Yes. Will they win a round of the playoffs? Probably not. The Toronto Maple Leafs pushed them to seven games last year, with them eventually losing to Pittsburgh. The Capitals problem this year is that they won’t win the division and have the luxury of playing a wild card team. The Capitals have locked down a core that has proven that they are not capable of advancing in the playoffs. As much as regular season success is great, a Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal. Sadly, one of those won’t be seen in DC any time soon.