Washington Capitals: A look ahead at improving during the offseason

The Washington Capitals face an important offseason.

The Washington Capitals will be looking to add some key pieces, figure out the contract extension plan for Alex Ovechkin and on top of it all will be looking for a new coach.

A busy offseason is ahead for General Manager Brian MacLellan.

The Caps will look at improving after another early playoff exit for the second straight year. Last year they were upset by the Carolina Hurricanes in a close seven game series including an extremely close Game 7.

This year they got spanked in five games to the New York Islanders and former coach Barry Trotz. It resulted in the firing of Todd Reirden.

In their series against the Islanders, the Capitals got eight goals from just three different players while New York got 17 goals from 10 different players. The Caps also took 41 minor penalties. That has to change, the forwards need to step up and the team has to stop taking penalties. The second thing we cannot stress enough. The Caps were also out hustled and out disciplined by Trotz, who coached the Islanders to a winning game plan.

The Caps got off to a scorching start to begin the regular season but after the holidays played mediocre hockey. It caught up to them when they went inside the bubble as they went 1-1-1 in the round robin before bowing out in the first round.

The offseason will also present a question as to what the Caps will do to address the situation in net. There is a possibility we just saw Braden Holtby‘s last game in a Capitals sweater. Although nobody knows what the free agent market is going to look like in the middle of the novel coronavirus pandemic that seems to not go away. Because of that, the salary cap will remain flat.

If it is indeed the end of an era, it’ll be Ilya Samsonov‘s time to step up and improve during the offseason as the starting job will likely be his. He was out for the playoffs after an ATV incident but the team expects him to be ready in time for training camp. Samsonov’s $925,000 cap hit will give MacLellan flexibility to address other needs to his roster.

The question is will Samsonov be paired with a veteran or will the backup be a battle between Vitek Vanecek and Pheonix Copley? Either option would work. One provides insurance and the other saves money.