“I’m really looking at a number of guys. I’m going to put guys in the middle during camp. I’m going to put Marcus Johansson and Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle. Eric Fehr played in the middle last season but I think he’s probably going to end up on the wing. Organizationally they added Andre Burakovsky and I’d like to see him in the middle. We did that during development camp and he was outstanding in the middle… I’m going to let them play through the camp, but my vision is that Johansson will play in the middle and Kuznetsov or Burakovsky will play in the middle and one will have to move to the wall. In today’s game, the more options you have the better off you are.”
So it sounds like either Johansson or Kuznetsov will be the second line center for the Washington Capitals, and that Fehr will wind up as a wing. Also, don’t rule out Burakovsky. On his forward lines:
“Obviously the Backstrom-Ovechkin line gets all the hard matchups, but last year based on performance the Jason Chimera-Joel Ward line probably outperformed any combination that they had in a second line. Through Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer — one of them might have to play on the top line — Kuznetsov, Johansson, Burakovsky, Fehr, I think we can probably establish a pretty good second line. If we can do that the depth of the third line will be very good too.”
If it’s between Brouwer and Laich, I’d prefer Brouwer to be with Ovechkin. It could be Laich though. This further confirms that the second line is mostly up in the air for the Washington Capitals. On Tom Wilson:
“I really like this player. When I first talked to Mac [general manager Brian MacLellan], when we both got hired, one of the things I said is based on watching him play and seeing where he is, he needs to move up the lineup. He’s got a lot of the qualities of a Milan Lucic-type player, a power forward, physical, but he has the ability to get around the ice and the ability with the hands to do something. I can see him moving up the ladder. Last year he was primarily fourth line and I know he should at least be in the top-nine for us. We need that element. Down the road I think he’s going to be a top-six forward. Honestly I might have been the most excited about this player. He should be ready for the start of training camp, meaning that he’ll be skating and practicing. But will he be playing? I can’t really answer that. I’m hoping he’s ready to go really early in training camp so he can catch up to everybody. I am really excited about him. I think he’s a guy that’s going to move up really quickly.”
So expect big things from Tom Wilson. He’s definitely moving on up to at least the third line. On Kuznetsov:
“The skill level, you see it on the power play and you see it in some of the short plays he’s able to make, that usually the very high-end players are able to execute. He’s able to do a lot of that. He was playing on the wall last year but he was mainly playing in the middle over in Europe, so he became a little bit of a hard read because he didn’t play in the middle. I’m going to play him in the middle right through, and if you get some people who are pretty hard-driving guys on his wing he could be a great fit. That’s why I’m hoping a guy like Wilson will be ready to do a lot of the heavy lifting and Kuznetsov can use his high skillset to make things happen. Hopefully I’ll get to see that.”
Kuznetsov and Wilson on the same forward line? Yes please. So, to recap, here is my best guess as the Washington Capitals forward lines to start off the 2014-2015 season: Fehr-Backstrom-Ovechkin Laich (puke)-Johansson-Brouwer Burakovsky-Kuznetsov-Wilson (this line makes me giddy) Chimera-Latta-Ward If the Washington Capitals add a top 6 forward so that Laich can be moved down to a third or fourth line role, that would be ideal. I’d also like to see Burakovsky spend some time in Hershey. It certainly sounds like Barry Trotz is extremely excited to be with the Washington Capitals.