There are a lot of opinions among Washington Capitals fans about what the Washington Capitals should do this off-season. Stars And Sticks writer Ben Eisenberg and I each used Capgeek‘s Armchair GM to create a team for next season. For the record, Armchair GM is extremely fun and addicting, not to mention an excellent way to waste time. It basically allows you to be the GM of a hockey team. If you need to waste hours at work or wherever, I highly recommend Armchair GM.
Ben’s Washington Capitals Roster
Here is a link to Ben’s roster. Below is the roster that he came up with.
Marcus Johansson ($2.000m) / Nicklas Backstrom ($6.700m) / Alex Ovechkin ($9.538m)
David Booth ($2.100m) / Joe Thornton ($6.750m) / Troy Brouwer ($3.667m)
Jason Chimera ($2.000m) / Brooks Laich ($4.500m) / Joel Ward ($3.000m)
Eric Fehr ($1.500m) / Steve Ott ($3.100m) / Tom Wilson ($0.894m)
Additions: C – Thornton, C – Ott, D – Markov, LW – Booth, G- Greiss
Subtractions: C – Beagle, LW Kuznetsov
This team has $176,580 remaining in cap space, assuming the cap is $71,100,000.
The big move I made was to trade Kuznetsov and this year’s first-round draft pick for Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks. While it’s never ideal to deal away a promising prospect like Kuznetsov, Thornton is a game-changer, and sorry Caps fans, it’s going to take more than Troy Brouwer to pry him away from the Sharks. San Jose is likely to enter a rebuilding phase and will want under-25 talent and/or high draft picks for Thornton.
I also added Steve Ott to strengthen this group of centers, which would now probably be among the top five in the NHL. His veteran leadership, snarl and skill would be a major asset to the bottom six. David Booth is not without skill and after his recent buyout in Vancouver can be added for a relative discount.
The defense needs to be addressed in a major way and Markov, if he can be lured away from Montreal, is the top-pair D the Caps sorely need. I added him at a $6 million cap hit, which seems like a lot but with a rising cap and the dearth of good blueliners available via free agency, it will seem like a bargain. I would pair him with John Carlson and hope that he helps the up-and-coming star the way he did P.K. Subban in Montreal. Karl Alzner and Mike Green round out a formidable second pair. Finally, Thomas Greiss provides a cheap backup solution capable of filling in for 20-25 games for Braden Holtby in net.
This roster would be ready to contend for a Cup right away, and while many of the moves seems bold and headline-grabbing, the Capitals have needed a major shakeup for a while. All of the players I pretend-added are veterans who have been through the rigors of the playoffs and played major roles on their teams. In addition to their talents, all of them bring a leadership aspect that the Caps have been sorely missing for most of the Ovechkin era.
The status quo of retooling around the margins is no longer acceptable. Let’s hope GM Brian MacLellan agrees, as Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom only have so many prime years left.
Overall, this is a very strong roster. I love the Thornton trade. As much as I love Kuznetsov, the Sharks would realistically want him in return from the Washington Capitals. They’d probably have to throw in Connor Carrick too, but I’d be perfectly OK with that. Ben is gambling a tad with Booth being a top six forward and Johansson seeing first line minutes, but considering how much he improved the team, I think that’s a gamble that’s worth taking.
Adding Ott is very nice. That gives the Washington Capitals three centers capable of being top six forwards (Backstrom, Thornton, and Ott). Ott is the type of player who Barry Trotz has had a ton of success with.
I’m not a huge fan of the Markov signing, but it’s still a solid signing. I think Markov is a bit too old for my liking. Expecting a 35 year old player to be a top pairing defenseman is a very risky move. I think it would work for at least next season, but if the Washington Capitals don’t win the Stanley Cup next season in Ben’s hypothetical situation, it wouldn’t be worth it.
Ben also didn’t upgrade the defense that much. Yes, getting a top pairing D like Markov is important, but depth is even more important.
I like the Greiss signing. Veteran backup goaltender who lets Philipp Grubauer hold down a starting job with the Hershey Bears.
Overall, I give Ben’s roster a B+. His Washington Capitals would definitely contend. The reason it’s not an A is because of the lack of overall improvement of the defense.
Tomorrow, Ben will review my Washington Capitals roster.