2022-23 Team Preview – Washington Capitals


Record: 44-26-12 100p (4th in the Metropolitan)

Playoffs: Lost in First Round to FLA

Key Losses

G – Vitek Vanecek (Trade – NJ), G – Ilya Samsonov (TOR), D – Justin Schultz (SEA), G – Pheonix Copley (LA), F – Johan Larsson, D – Michal Kempny (SEA)

Key Additions

G – Darcy Kuemper, G – Charlie Lindgren, D – Erik Gustafsson, F – Henrik Borgstrom, F – Dylan Strome, D – Gabriel Carlsson, F – Connor Brown

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2022-23 Preview

Heading into the 2022-23 season history will be made in many ways for the Washington Capitals as Alex Ovechkin continues the chase for Wayne Gretzky to become the all time leader in career goals in the NHL. Currently sitting at 780 goals Ovechkin looks to surpass Gordie Howe for second all time in the first few months of the season, and will also look to reach the 50 goal plateau for the 10th time in his career to take sole possession of first place in NHL history for most fifty goal seasons in an NHL career. While Ovechkin is doing all of this he will also become the first player in NHL history to score 800 goals with the same team. So there is a lot of history to be made this season with Ovechkin this season.

For the Capitals as a whole the biggest change for them is between the pipes as both Ilya Samsonov (signed with Toronto) and Vitek Vanecek (traded to New Jersey) are both now gone, and in are Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren. Kuemper is fresh off of winning the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, and will look to prove that it was not a fluke as he comes to DC with the intentions of helping the Capitals win their second Stanley Cup in franchise history. Before Colorado, Kuemper was a standout netminder for the Arizona Coyotes and after being traded to Colorado he proved that he was more than capable to backstop the Avalanche to the Cup. Here’s hoping he still has that magic and backstop the Caps to a deep run. As for Lindgren, he is a capable backup, but he doesn’t have a lot of experience either, and with Zach Fucale in wings, will make the battle for the backup position interesting. I’m also interested in seeing how Lindgren pushes Kuemper as the tandem works together to backstop the Caps.

On defense both Justin Schultz and Michal Kempny are gone as both went to Seattle, and prospect Alexander Alexeyev will start the season on the IR after having shoulder surgery which means offseason signing Erik Gustafsson will slot in as the sixth defenseman with Matt Irwin and Gabriel Carlsson battling for the 7th defenseman spot. I see Dmitry Orlov being paired up as a shutdown pairing once again this season while John Carlson and Martin Fehervary will man the top pairing for the Caps. I see Fehervary breaking out a bit this season. I liked what I saw from him last season, and the future is bright for him. Trevor van Riemsdyk will be on the third pair and will get more opportunities this season, which is good in my opinion as van Riemsdyk is a responsible defender, and could slot higher if one of the other defenders struggles a bit.

On offense the Capitals are going to be in good shape, and that’s with both Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson out of the lineup for at least the first half of the season. With Wilson we know he’ll be back in late December/early January, but Backstrom is the real question mark as his hip ins not in great shape and he had another surgery on it, and it’s the type that ends careers. So it’ll be very interesting to see if Backstrom does come back at all this season, and my prediction is that if he does, it’ll be in the playoffs because of the salary cap. Another question will be the status of Carl Hagelin and his eye injury. He’s been skating with the team during informal skates, and his been a full participant, which has been promising, but when training camp comes around (this is being typed and scheduled on 9/15/22) how will he do with the eye exam, and if he passes, what will it do to the Caps lineup? We bring this up because there had already been a lot of planning in what the lineup could look like, and with this being a prime example of what we could expect:

Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Connor Brown
Anthony Mantha — Lars Eller — TJ Oshie
Dylan Strome — Connor McMichael — Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway

Now obviously if Hagelin is on the opening night roster this will cause some pain for the Caps, not because of what everyone expected to have for the lineup, but also for Salary Cap implications as a move would be needed. Especially since that this is the year that Connor McMichael is really expected to get more responsibility and opportunities. That changes with Hagelin in the lineup as Marcus Johansson would most likely move into the 3C spot and McMichael would probably get scratched, but you’d still have the cap problem, and so someone will have to get moved. All signs point to Lars Eller due to him having the most expendable contract to help ease the cap pressure.

I’m looking forward to seeing not just McMichael get more opportunities this season, but also to see how Dylan Strome and Connor Brown do. Brown will have the task to fill in for Wilson while he recovers from his knee surgery, and Strome will be getting a fresh start with the Caps after dumbfoundingly being let go by Chicago. Both players have a lot of solid potential. One player I do also want to see more of this season too is Aliaksei Protas. I really like what I saw from him last season, and would like to see more of him this season. It’ll be interesting to see what the Caps decide to do with Hendrix Lapierre. I really liked what I saw from him in the 9 games he played last season, and could be on the team this season along with Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (lot of young guys fighting for spots that aren’t there, and that’s a good thing). Will be really interesting to see how things shake out for the Caps coming out of training camp.

One gripe that I need to address though, and that is of course Blaine Forsythe. He’s still employed when he really shouldn’t be. Without Backstrom he’s going to not change a thing with the powerplay and that is going to be a major concern. The powerplay is way to predictable, and he needs to change it up to take away that predictability, but Forsythe won’t do that. He also coaches the centers, and faceoff percentages have dropped horrendously under him. Blaine Forsythe has outstayed his welcome and he needs to go.

Overall this will be an interesting season for the Caps, and they will fight for their spot in the playoffs this season. Should be a fun ride this season.

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