Every year there are players who lead their team, breakout for their club, and players who take a step back. Here is a look at who some of these players might be for the Capitals this upcoming season.
The Capitals will go as far as Alex Ovechkin can carry them. He has led the team in scoring every year since he has broke into the league. Ovechkin is as dynamic of a scorer as there is and forces teams to gameplan for him. He will be hungry under a new coach to get the team back into the playoffs. His relationship with Trotz may be the biggest factor as to whether the Capitals make it or not.
Evgeny Kuznetsov gained some NHL expierence at the end of last season. This year he is set to make an impact. The Capitals have hole in their top six forwards that Kuznetsov is a prime candidate to fill it. He has success in the KHL in the past and should be able to translate his scoring to the NHL level. His talent is obvious and Kuznetsov should only get better as he gets more comfortable with the NHL game. An impact close to Vladimir Tarasenko out in St. Louis wouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Brooks Laich had a tough season last year. He dealt with injuries and had a career low 15 points. We haven’t seen a healthy Brroks Laich since the 2011-2012 season. If he can get his game back to previous levels that would be huge for the Capitals with their depth depleted from what it was five years ago. Laich is the type of player that should thrive under Barry Trotz with his work ethic and two way play. As it stands today, the Capitals are weak at left wing so Laich should get his opportunity.
This may be unfair, but there is a chance Troy Brouwer takes a step back this season after a career high 25 goals. He scored almost half his goals(12) on the powerplay last season and it is unlikely he does it again. The Capitals will likely run a different powerplay system and use different personnel. Brouwer also could see third line minutes after the success Jason Chimera and Joel Ward had together last season. Brouwer is a good finisher, but struggles to create offense on his own and might not be put in a position to post the numbers he did last season.
Mike Green will hear his name in trade rumors all season long after the new signings on defense. As it stands now, the Capitals have as much depth on defense as they’ve had in the last 10 years. GM MacLellan has the luxury to hold on to Green until he gets the right deal. Green should be able to have a solid season under Trotz if they don’t get the right deal before the season starts. If Green remains with the team, the organization will have to make the decision of whether to move him or keep him at the trade deadline as it is unlikely Green will be apart of the future.