Another season finale finds the Washington Capitals on the outside looking in after a 4-2 loss in Round 1 to the Florida Panthers. This makes the fourth season in a row that the Capitals did not make it past the first round. So how are fans feeling now, especially with Florida losing four straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning? Probably thinking their team could have done better. Possibly, but we will never know.
The front office for the team will have a lot on their plate this offseason. Of course, they have the goaltending situation to consider, but the draft is also coming up. In addition, questions about the health of both Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin will have to be answered, hopefully in time for next season.
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By the Numbers
Power Play: 18.75% (23rd)
Penalty Kill: 80.44% (12th)
Goals For: 275 (10th)
Goals Against: 245 (12th)
As always, Alex Ovechkin was the best player for the Capitals in the regular season. He has 90 points with 50 goals and 40 assists, and the next one in line was Evgeny Kuznetsov with 78 points. Ovechkin is not getting any younger, but he is still running on all cylinders. However, it is interesting to note that T.J. Oshie was the Capitals’ best player in the playoffs with seven points (six goals and one assist). Ovechkin will not be with the team forever, and while there will never be another like him, Washington will need to find a replacement sooner rather than later.
Can an entire franchise be considered the biggest disappointment for the season? If so, then there is your answer. However, it is much more complicated than it appears. So many factors have contributed to the inability of the team to get past the first round. If it is not injuries, it is players not stepping up. More than that, the goaltending situation did not bring any stability to help right the ship. The team played well enough to get a wildcard spot in the playoffs but could not capitalize on it and get past the Panthers. Changes are coming to the franchise, but are the changes coming too little too late? Only the 2022-23 season will be able to tell us.
Behind the Bench Analysis
Peter Laviolette is now going into the final year of his contract with the Capitals. Despite the success during the regular season, the first-round exits in the playoffs are not good on his report card. Will the Capitals’ front office extend or offer another contract to Laviolette? Maybe. However, if they do not do anything before the 2022-23 season, Laviolette will have to show why he deserves to be still coaching the team.
Front Office Analysis
General manager Brian MacLellan has his hands full this offseason. Many decisions will have to be made, and questions about injuries and goaltending will be the main focus. MacLelland will also need to address how he will make the team younger yet still able to contend for a playoff spot. Washington has been on a slow downward slide since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. MacLellan needs to step up, stop the slide, and make the tough decisions if he wishes to continue being with the franchise.
2022 NHL Entry Draft Picks/Prognosis
Looking at the overall quality of the picks for this draft season, the Capitals might find themselves a gem in the late first round. Washington has six draft picks to work with, so MacLellan and the front office will need to focus on finding a way to score on their early pick while finding valuable players in the later rounds. Although they may not want to, they will need to think about a Capitals team without Ovechkin. This draft season is the perfect time to start planning for this if they already have not.
Offseason Wish/Checklist & Prognosis for 2022-2023
Due to age or salary, the Capitals will likely part ways with several players. The Capitals will need to take a long look at what they already have in their prospect pool and give them another look. Also, it is expected that they will attempt to find veteran players in free agency. Expect the team to trend towards getting younger, but remember the flipside of that is the loss of experience which is always essential, but even more so during a playoff run.
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