The turmoil of the 2011-12 season left more than a few scars and bruises for this Washington Capitals team. From putting Bruce Boudreau out of work to Alex Ovechkin underperforming, the Capitals had a whirlwind of a season.
After letting Boudreau go, the Capitals hired long-time fan favorite – Dale Hunter. Although Hunter wouldn’t sign on after the season ended, he led the Capitals into the playoffs, and led them out of the dark tunnel that they were getting into with Boudreau. The Caps eventually found their new bench boss in the early summer, signing Adam Oates to a new deal.
Meanwhile, the Capitals shuffled their deck of cards in the off-season. Alexander Semin’s joyous career in D.C. ended when he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes in the off-season. Some thought uh-oh, are they rebuilding after seeing Semin leave. No they aren’t rebuilding, don’t worry Caps fans. The team engineered quite the draft day deal to lure Mike Ribeiro over from the Dallas Stars. Meanwhile, Tomas Vokoun’s brief D.C. tenure ended when his negotiating rights were traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Who’s in and Who’s out from Washington:
Additions: Joey Crabb, Zach Hamill, Jordan Henry, Jack Hillen, Mike Ribeiro, Ryan Stoa, Wojtek Wolski
Subtractions: Keith Aucoin, Chris Bourque, Cody Eakin, Jeff Halpern, Joel Rechlicz, Alex Semin, Tomas Vokoun, Dennis Wideman
So have you been waiting for Evgeny Kuznetsov? Yeah well keep waiting; he signed a two year deal with Chelyabinsk in the KHL during the off-season. He has been averaging roughly a point per game pace at the KHL level and is said to have shades of young Pavel Bure. But he may still be a way’s off from helping the Caps if he’s comfortable staying and playing over in Russia. The team did bolster its ranks on draft day, nabbing two forwards in Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson.
Is the craziness over in Washington finally? It’s been widely said that Boudreau’s style both on the bench and off the ice clashed with the team over the past couple of years which left them out of the running for the Stanley Cup. Although with a new coach behind the bench for the majority of last season still wasn’t enough for them to propel to the top of the division.vWith Boudreau out, and Semin in Carolina, can the team finally get back to focusing on playing better hockey?
Something that definitely needs to change in Washington and hopefully it will this season is Alexander Ovechkin’s average play. In his first five seasons, Ovi averaged 54 goals, but has only averaged a measly 35 over his last two. So what is Ovi doing now? Is he focusing on the rest of his game? Like his defence or maybe more physicality? Or has the rest of the league figured him out? It’s tough to believe Ovechkin will ever truly drop off the 30+ goal plateau, but the Capitals could definitely use a potential 30+ output from their captain in this shortened NHL season.
The Caps will have to rely heavily on their two youngster goalies with Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth to keep pace with Carolina this season for the Southeast Title. This may be one of the more entertaining divisions to watch as the Panthers will try to repeat in the mix as well. Expect to see the Capitals return to the playoffs as they find themselves securing a lower end seed such as 6th place in the Eastern Conference.