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2017-2018 NHL Preview: Washington Capitals

Will Ovechkin trade rumors slow down their offense?

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals - Game Seven Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Twenty-seventh up are the Washington Capitals who are entering their 44th season as one of 5 teams who have never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals (Arizona Coyotes, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets are the 4 others. (Fun factoid: the last two years featured San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators who had never been). The Capitals have made the playoffs

9 of their last 10 seasons including 3 Presidents Trophy for the best regular season team.

Basic Stats:2016-2017 NHL Standings: 1st

Eastern Conference Standings: 1stMetropolitan Division Standings: 1st

Goals for Rank: 3rd

Goals against Rank: 1st

Overview: Washington Capitals. There are 7 teams who have won the Presidents Trophy in the last 10 years and everyone one of them EXCEPT the Washington Capitals have made it to a Stanley Cup Finals (New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks x2, San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings). This is a team who was 3rd in goals for and 1stin goals against, they then proceeded to the playoffs where they dropped to 6th in goals for and 11th in goals against getting ousted in the 2nd round for a 3rdconsecutive year. The good news is the fantasy ignores playoffs and just focuses on the regular season which leaves an abundance of big names to grab off this roster. They lost a few offense pieces in Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams and have no major additions to the team. Alex Ovechkin, TJ Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom are on the tail end of the prime of their careers and the influx of talent in Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov will be expected to fill some of that (as evident in the 8 year $64MM contract the team gave Evgeny). I think the team overpaid in the Kuznetsov contract as well as the TJ Oshie one (8 years $46MM) but no one can fault the team for investing in the now. Their offense should stay around the top 5 as they remain such a powerful and resilient unit; however, the drama with Ovechkin trade rumors could rear it’s ugly head and derail the team for 5-10 games if there are any dry spells in goals. On defense the team took a hit with the loss of Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk. The two of them combined for 27 points and a +27 over a combined 101 games. In net Braden Holtby is a top 3 goalie in the league. Vezina winner over the 2015-2016 season, he was a nominee last year and will likely be in that company again this year. Adding to that Phillip Grubauer appears to be equally as talented actually posting better stats across his 24 games than Braden who was 2nd in GAA and 3rd in Sv %. I would not be surprised in Washington is 1stagain in goals against this year.

Major Additions:

Major Subtractions: Karl Alzner, Marcus Johansson, Kevin Shattenkirk and Justin Williams

Prospects and Picks:

- Christian Djoos. Entering his third(ish) season with the AHL Hershey Bears last year, Christian scored 58 points across 66 games on defense and then cemented that in by scoring another 8 across 12 playoff games. The best part is that he provided this production as a solid two way defensemen. It remains unknown how a loaded Capitals team wants to utilize him but he could serve as a top four, more PK inclined shutdown defenseman with potential scoring production. He is sturdy on his skates and keeps his head up watching plays formulate both offensively and defensively.

- Travis Boyd. Christian was outscored by one player last year on the Hershey Bears – Travis Boyd. After spending 4 years at the University of Minnesota where he scored 96 points across 148 games, the 177th overall pick in the 2011 draft looks like he’s ready to produce for the Capitals. The best part about Travis besides his obvious goal scoring abilities and strong skating, is his attitude which helps drive his improving game each year.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:

-Jakub Vrana. If he is on the second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky then expect his 21 GP, 6 point season to increase to a 40+ point season with a potential of 20 goals. 15 of those 40 points will be on the power play.

-Christian Djoos. The funny part about Christian is that the team lost Karl Alzner (very defensive oriented great plus minus) and Kevin Shattenkirk (rental defenseman who was very offense oriented) and Christian appears to be an even blend of the two. IF the team opts to give him some PP time every few games, he could see a nice 30 point season. If he is used more as a shutdown player he could see a nice plus minus bump and solid minutes adding in hits, blocked shots and PIM.

Cap Situation:

They currently have around $4.0MM with 17 players signed.

Projected finish:

2017-2018 NHL Standings: 5th

Eastern Conference Standings: 3rd

Metropolitan Division: 3rd

NHL 6th: Nashville Predators (Western Conference 3rd; Central Division 2nd)

NHL 7th: Toronto Maple Leafs (Eastern Conference 4th; Atlantic Division 1st)

NHL 8th: Chicago Blackhawks (Western Conference 4th; Central Division 3rd)

NHL 9th: Tampa Bay Lightning (Eastern Conference 5th; Atlantic Division 2nd)

NHL 10th: Anaheim Ducks (Western Conference 5th; Pacific Division 2nd)

NHL 11th: Ottawa Senators (Eastern Conference 6th; Atlantic Division 3rd)

NHL 12th: Montreal Canadiens (Eastern Conference 7th; Atlantic Division 4th)

NHL 13th: New York Rangers (Eastern Conference 8th; Metropolitan Division 4th)

NHL 14th: Calgary Hurricanes (Western Conference 6th; Pacific Division 3rd)

NHL 15th: Carolina Hurricanes (Eastern Conference 9th; Metropolitan Division 5th)

NHL 16th: San Jose Sharks (Western Conference 7th; Pacific Division 4th)

NHL 17th: Dallas Stars (Western Conference 8th; Central Division 4th)

NHL 18th: Philadelphia Flyers (Eastern Conference 10th; Metropolitan Division 6th)

NHL 19th: Winnipeg Jets (Western Conference 9th; Central Division 5th)

NHL 20th: St. Louis Blues (Western Conference 10th; Central Division 6th)

NHL 21st: Boston Bruins (Eastern Conference 11th; Atlantic Division 5th)

NHL 22nd: Buffalo Sabres (Eastern Conference 12th; Atlantic Division 6th)

NHL 23rd: Arizona Coyotes (Western Conference 11th; Pacific Division 5th)

NHL 24th: Los Angeles Kings (Western Conference 12th; Pacific Division 6th)

NHL 25th: New Jersey Devils (Eastern Conference 13th; Metropolitan Division 7th)

NHL 26th: Detroit Red Wings (Eastern Conference 14th; Atlantic Division 7th)

NHL 27th: New York Islanders (Eastern Conference 15th; Metropolitan Division 8th)

NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacific Division 7th)

NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)

NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)

NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)