The Washington Capitals were in a unique situation entering the offseason. In fact it was a scary situation. There was a sense that a shakeup was coming, however, the Caps decided to stand pat for the most part and are going to run it back with 99 percent of the same guys coming back.
If someone were to ask me if there was one thing they improved on this offseason I wouldn’t say the offense because they’re returning practically the same guys. Same with the goaltending. I wouldn’t say defense either because they lost two guys.
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No, the one thing the Caps did to improve this offseason was improve their comrade. I’ll explain, the Caps improved by staying pat and not doing any shakeups. The only real “shakeup” was trading away Brenden Dillon to gain back $3.9 million in cap space to have enough money to re-sign Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Samsonov.
There was supposed to be a shakeup in goal but the Caps were lucky enough to trade back with the Seattle Kraken for Vitek Vanecek. The offense returning everyone means there isn’t any glaring holes in the lineup. You’re brining back an unstoppable fourth line with Carl Hagelin, Nic Dowd, and Garnet Hathaway.
You’re also returning Conor Sheary and Daniel Sprong, two young bucks looking to add speed to an old, veteran heavy lineup. You got Lars Eller. And then there’s Evgeny Kuznetsov, who the Caps elected not to trade this offseason. Not trading Kuznetsov means you know what you’re going to get when he’s on his game and that is an elite playmaking center. The Caps are perhaps giving Kuzy one last chance.
Then there’s Anthony Mantha who should thrive under a full season in D.C. Then you got T.J. Oshie who was protected from the Kraken. Then of course you got Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alex Ovechkin. On paper that is still a dangerous lineup.
The biggest question mark will be the defense. How will it adapt to the loss of Brenden Dillon as well as Zdeno Chara? That will be the position to watch this upcoming season. Expect Martin Fehervary to get some playing time. Hopefully Nick Jensen builds on a successful 2021 season. Then you’ve got Justin Schultz, Dmitry Orlov, and John Carlson back as well as Trevor van Riemsdyk.
The Caps will also have a battle to watch in goal between Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, both will enter the next offseason as restricted free agents. A little healthy competition should bring out the best in the two young netminders.
Overall, the Caps improved their offseason by keeping the locker room intact. We’ll find out in the spring if that paid off.