Record: 36-15-5 77 points – 2nd Place in the MassMutual East Division
Playoffs: Lost to Boston in the First Round
D – Brenden Dillon, D – Zdeno Chara, F – Michael Raffl, G – Craig Anderson
With the 2021-22 season upon us the Capitals have a few questions that they will need to answer after having what many consider to be a very quiet offseason. Starting in goal the Capitals need to find out if Ilya Samsonov is going to be the real deal. While as a back up to former Capital Braden Holtby, Samsonov was proving that he was going to be capable of taking over the reigns as the number one goalie, but due to an ATV accident during the pause he missed out on the 2020 playoffs. Then this past season he shot himself in the foot twice due to COVID-19. First breaking protocols and then catching it, and then the second time catching it after being late to a team function. This allowed Vitek Vanecek to step in and take over the starting duties. Samsonov over the offseason signed a one year, two million dollar prove it contract when fellow Russian netminders Ilya Sorokin (NYI) and Igor Shesterkin (NYR) were signed to longer term with more money due to their progress with their respective teams. Even if Samsonov has a spectacular training camp, it would be better to give Vitek Vanecek the number one spot and let Samsonov earn his way back into the starter’s net on a more full time basis. Vanecek has earned the right to be the number one goalie, and should be given the right to continue to prove it again this season.
On defense the Capitals no longer have Zdeno Chara or Brenden Dillon but look to give Trevor van Riemsdyk more of a role this season. Matt Irwin was signed to be a seventh defenseman, and shouldn’t expect to play much. The big question for the Capitals will be that of Michal Kempny, and how will he preform this season. Kempny was a catalyst for the Capitals when the went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2018, but since then has been hampered with hamstring and achilles injuries that have greatly limited him. After missing the entire 2020-21 season, where will he be in regards to his overall game? Plus you have prospect Martin Fehervary who has shown that he is ready for the NHL, and will look to earn his spot during training camp. Only way to really give Fehervary a spot though is potentially by freeing up cap space via trade. Who to trade to free up that space though, that’s a tough one to answer.
On offense the Capitals had zero changes made. However, maybe an injection of some young blood could be a good thing for the Capitals. Connor McMichael is going to get a legitimate shot at making the roster, and he has proven that he has the tools to play at high level. Getting him valuable playing time in the NHL is a most, but needs to be managed properly. One player that I could possibly see being moved to make room for McMichael would be Carl Hagelin. with a $2.5 million cap hit, he would probably be the best bet for trading away for cap space. Would possibly open the door for Fehervary too. A big focus will be on Alexander Ovechkin, who signed a five year deal to remain with the Capitals, as he will continue to chase Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. Sitting at 730 currently, Ovechkin has a good chance to cover some ground with his first 82 game season in 2 years (thanks due to the COVID-19 Pandemic). Anthony Mantha will also be looked to to step up and become the top six forward that we traded for last season. Mantha has great potential, and now that he will have an opportunity to play a full season in Washington with a more higher quality players on a more regular basis, his game should definitely improve.
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Anthony Mantha — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie
Conor Sheary — Lars Eller — Daniel Sprong
Carl Hagelin — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Dmitry Orlov — John Carlson
Michal Kempny — Justin Schultz
Trevor van Riemsdyk — Nick Jensen