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Capitals Five Offseason Storylines to Watch For

June 24, 2021, 6:39 PM ET [8 Comments]
Brian Sickles
Washington Capitals Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Hello All!

WHAT IS UP MY HOCKEYBUZZ FAM?!

Today I will be taking a look at some offseason storylines to keep an eye on for the Capitals:

1. Will the Capitals Protect T.J. Oshie For the Expansion Draft? My gut says yes, but just never know! Capitals GM Brian MacLellan was notably asked about the expansion draft on two separate occasions recently. On May 28th he said T.J Oshie was a “big part” of the organization, but MacLellan failed to directly say if the Capitals would protect Oshie or not. On June 2nd, MacLellan finally said in a radio interview the Capitals were “unlikely” to expose T.J Oshie in the expansion draft. In addition, T.J. Oshie was been very public about wanting to stay in DC. Yes, he has ties back to WA, but he loves D.C. and wants to stick around. My prediction…The Capitals do protect Oshie. Oshie may be 34 but the dude still has a lot left in the tank and he is essentially irreplaceable on the power play.

2. Will the Capitals trade Evgeny Kuznetsov? This one is tricky. I think in a majority of scenarios, the Capitals would not trade Kuzy, but something feels off here. Ever since the Stanley Cup run where Kuzy had 31 points (12G-19A-31P), he has not played as consistent. In addition, Kuzy has had a handful of off-ice incidents that have resulted in team discipline. Kuzy is on contract for four more years with an AAV of $7.8M a year. This is tough because Kuznetsov has shown during spurts over the years that he can be an elite player that deserves to make that kind of money. Statistically speaking, his “Points/60min” and his Corsi have both marginally decreased three seasons in a row. Unfortunately for Kuzy, it’s the inconsistency and off-ice stuff that seems to be be garnering more attention lately. I don’t know which team would trade for Kuzy and take on his contract but there are usually at least a few teams with interest. The Capitals may have to retain some of the contract but that is not something they typically do. Then again, trading a top line center also isn’t something they typically do. My prediction: Kuznetsov needs a change of scenery and the Capitals move him. Possibly to the Blue Jackets?! They seem like the sort of team with the most to offer in a potential deal.

3. Alex Ovechkin Contract – I wrote about this in my last piece so I wont touch on it too much. The biggest things to keep an eye out for here are two things. 1. Will the Capitals re-sign Ovechkin? And 2. What will the contract look like? I think its pretty obvious the Capitals are going to re-sign Ovechkin but nothing is 100% yet. I stand firm on my original prediction on the contract. I think the team signs Ovi for 4-years at $10-10.5M a year. I do not like the deal but its just what I think will happen.


4. Addressing the Goaltender in the room - The Capitals biggest weakness prior to the 2020-2021 season was their goaltending. During the regular season, the goaltending was so erratic. When the Capitals lost in the first round to the Bruins, goaltending depth was once again highlighted as one of the reasons the Capitals failed. The duo of Samsonov and Vanecek has tons of potential. Unfortunately, that duo literally had the least amount of combined NHL starts of any goaltending tandem heading into last season. Between the lack of NHL experience, the off-ice issues with Samsonov, and injuries, the Capitals goaltending situation was more of a shituation if you are catching my vibes. I am interested to see which goalie the Capitals protect. The first choice that comes to mind would be protect Samsonov since his ceiling is much higher than Vanecek’s. In addition to the two youngers, I believe the Capitals will find a way to get another veteran goalie who isn’t on the backend of retirement. Moving Kuznetsov would also help free up some Cap for this. Whatever the Capitals decide, the team must change something from last season. My prediction: The Capitals protect Samsonov and sign a veteran goalie who isn’t about to retire. It would be a crowded goalie room but until we see significant consistency from anyone, this needs to be done.

5. Defense – The Capitals have some question marks and things to sort out on defense. Specifically on the left side. As it relates to the expansion draft, the Capitals could very easily protect seven forwards and three defensemen. If that is the case, the Capitals would likely protect Carlson and Schultz on defense. That would mean either Dillon or Orlov would be left exposed. There is no guarantee either one would be selected in the draft. If they were…it would create a hole on the left defense. The Capitals would be wise to give Martin Fehervary full NHL time. In my opinion, he is fully capable of playing at the next level. He would be a low cap hit compared to resigning someone like Chara. Michael Kempney should be returning from injury next season so that will help with the depth. Overall the defense improved a lot from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021. At the end of the day, the thing I am keeping an eye on is how many defenders the Capitals protect for the expansion draft. In addition, I am curious if the Capitals promote Fehervary if they do not resign Chara. MacLellan wants to get younger so maybe Fehervary would be the way to go.

That is all for today! Go Caps!
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