The playoffs, however, is a different story and failures in the past couple years have cast quite the big shadow over that achievement above. With that being said, this is all about the regular season and the Washington Capitals are still a team to beat... or are they?
Like we have seen with many powerhouse teams in recent memory, being that strong comes with a serious cost, one that is exceptionally hard to maintain year after year without major tweaks and changes. This is not untrue with the Capitals, who had to shift a lot of cap space around to keep, who they think, are the most important pieces moving forward and they also shifted out some real talent to other teams, that could easily take on that sort of financial burden. Oh yes, let's not forget about free agency, where the Capitals also lost some talent, when they couldn't afford to re-sign them.
Nevertheless, there is a solid core group in Washington, but how many of them are you prepared to gamble on?
Table last updated on August 9th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
The Capitals had to ship out a guy like Marcus Johansson to make room for some more players to fit under their cap ceiling and one of those players makes for an intriguing selection and that is Andre Burakovsky.
I haven't seen enough in Burakovsky to really vault him into some high expectations like his restricted free agent signing counterpart Evgeny Kuznetsov, but he does certainly fill a role that he competes in with a fair amount of consistency and that could put him in a position to break out a little bit more, but I am still not 100% convinced. I believe his projection here is somewhat conservative, but at the same time, I am not exactly prepared to go all-in here either. If I can get him at the 45-point range in the draft, I would be quite pleased.
First Round Picks
First of all, let's assume that the Olympic situation isn't a situation at all and Alex Ovechkin isn't going to defy the league orders and go over to South Korea for the games. Then yes, I do think he will be a player worthy of an early pick again, which will then make both Nicklas Backstrom, his line mate and their number one goalie, Braden Holtby, into top picks as well. I can see Ovechkin getting really fired up for the season, after somewhat of a poor showing in the 2017 season, with only 33 goals.
If you're worried about the Olympic situation getting out of hand... disregard that last paragraph and panic.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
With the exodus of talent that the Capitals had to endure this summer, their projections took a bit of a hit overall, as I only have Evegny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky as pool worthy forwards, on top of the two 1st rounders. Usually, a team is going to want a few more than just three and there is some wiggle room for another player or two somewhere, but it's hard to tell where that's going to come from right about now.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Thankfully for Caps fans, they have some weapons on the back end, which should aid their cause this year. John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen all have potential to hit 40+ points this season, which should make them fairly popular in the draft. All three will have to pick up some of the slack that the losses up front will leave, but they are more than capable of doing so.
Holtby is going to have to work extra hard this year, but Philipp Grubauer is back for another year and he'll still be worthy of a late round selection. He'll have to work a little harder behind this team as well, but if he wants to elevate his status and find a number one job somewhere, this will be the season where he can make it or break it.
Team To Pick From Late?
The depth for this team will be its greatest challenge this season, so they will be leaning heavily on Jay Beagle and Lars Eller, both were hanging around the bottom of the rankings for forwards last season, but saw their projections take them under worthiness. They would be the two possible sleepers from this team, if they can make lemonade this year and if Madison Bowey can find a full-time job, he could find some rookie points in there somewhere too.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Capitals got all their work done fairly early and often in this off-season, leaving no restricted free agent unturned. Now, they've only left themselves with nickels and dimes for the rest of the regular season, having only about $757,000 in cap space unused. Unless there is another move or two during the preseason or regular season, the Capitals are pretty much set with the roster they are going to live and die by.
Alex Ovechkin was reportedly hurt (knee, hamstring) during the playoffs, but he didn't need any off-season surgeries, so for the most part, he should be 100% for training camp and anything beyond that is left up to the hockey gods.