Washington Capitals: Eleven Reasons To Be Thankful

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Photo Credit: Tori Hartman

The Young Guns

The Washington Capitals have ensured that we have many years of exciting hockey to watch ahead of us. Players like Evgeny Kuznetsov are blossoming while others like Andre Burakovsky and Tom Wilson seem imminent. Behind them in our assorted minor and overseas leagues, we’ve got a whole other crop of talent on their way up because of the diligence of the players themselves and the team officials that scout them from far and wide.

It would have been relatively easy to mortgage it all in hasty trades at the deadline or by selling future picks at each year’s draft. Unlike other teams, we’ve struck a fine balance. The Washington Capitals have kept our cupboards stocked with players like Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, Riley Barber, Madison Bowey, Chris Brown, Stanislav Galiev and others while sacrificing enough to grab impact players now like T.J. Oshie.

We gave up a third round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry draft as part of the incentive to grab Oshie, but we’ve managed to keep our future secured with numerous other high round picks. By keeping the picks that have a lower percentage of yielding duds, we have more chances to win the lottery on players like Kuznetsov or Backstrom. I’m incredibly grateful that the future of Washington Capitals hockey looks as bright as the present does.

What we’ve seen from our prospects in the present looks pretty great as well. In the preseason rookie tournament in Estero, Florida this year, we got to witness the quick forming chemistry of Vrana, Stephenson, and Barber who continue to develop in the AHL Hershey Bears. We should thank Bears head coach Troy Mann and his staff for his continued excellence in ensuring that these young players have all the tools they need to compete in the NHL whenever that day may come. Spencer Carbery, coach of the ECHL South Carolina Sting Rays deserves gratitude as well.

The new youth movement on the Capitals has potentially helped to prevent another season like 2003-2004, where we pulled the pin on the Washington Capitals franchise grenade, traded away the best of our assets and hoped for salvation with the next year’s #1 overall pick. While reviewing it in hindsight feels like a necessary evil to grab the then rookie Alex Ovechkin – a wiser move may have been to gradually work in young, talented players along the way.

I’m thankful that it doesn’t look like we’ll need to do that again in the near or distant future.

Next: Going Forward