As we end one of the more deadening months for hockey, let’s take a look back at what the Capitals have done so far this offseason, what some questions may be entering the season, and where they may stand going forward into camp and ultimately their regular season.
To start the Capitals parted ways with both their coach and GM from last year; Adam Oates and George McPhee, mainly due to a missed playoff appearance for the first time in 7 years. Barry Trotz and Brian MacLellan were the replacements to bring a new hope and style to the team as well as hopefully regaining that playoff streak.
Barry Trotz is known for working his players hard and getting the maximum effort from everyone. This will be good, a Washington Capitals team that has talent but plays scrappy, could be an interesting combo, especially late in games.
The Capitals suffered defensive issues last year, leaving them looking like a downtrodden group of individuals. With injuries as the main issue for their non-religious, holey defense, the Brian MacLellan and the Capitals made a statement and plucked two defenseman from their rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins; Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik.
With these two added to the defensive corps, Barry Trotz is in a good position of having to much depth. The question comes up What will happen with Mike Green? At 6M a year right now, and the Capitals stating that they have no intentions of moving him, with Niskanen and Carlson also being right handed defensman, Green may be looking at the third pairing for the defense. Its tough to put your best offensive defenseman as well as the highest paid defenseman on the third pairing but really there is not much choice. Orpik becomes another issue for Trotz, as his is not your top line defensman and while he will provide a physical nature at the blue line, he is not one to put up against the opponents top lines either.
Braden Holtby didn’t have the greatest numbers last year and some of that could be attributed to the defense or lack there of. The Capitals addressed the back-up position with signing Justin Peters, former tender for the Hurricanes. Peters showed promise with the ‘Canes as a back-up. With new goalie coach, Mitch Korn, who worked wonders in Nashville, the Capitals will look to him to iron out any issues that these two may have throughout the season.
The biggest question for the Capitals coming into the 2014-15 season is How will Alex Ovechkin work with Barry Trotz and vice versa. Trotz, being known as a defensive minded coach and Ovechkin not playing defense that often, could butt heads in this area. Trotz has already stated that he wants to take the “glide” out of Ovechkin’s step and get him skating up and down the ice rather than basically cherry picking. Although we know that Ovechkin will do what he wants to do and it will most likely be left at that.
I am hoping for the sake of the team, that Ovi and Trotz are on the same page and everything works out for the best. If this is the case, then expect the Washington Capitals to be in the playoffs for years to come.