Last Season – The Capitals went 42-32 -8 for 92 points and the 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. They upset the Bruins in the first round before losing to the Rangers in 7 games in round 2.
Ready to Step In – Zach Hamill is a former top 10 pick who couldn’t crack the lineup in Boston. Traded to Washington in the offseason, he could find a spot as an injury fill in who then sticks around once given a shot. Has played only 20 NHL games over 5 pro seasons.
Look For A Bounce-back Season From – With the seasons had by Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, it is hard to believe the Caps actually made the playoffs. For Green and Backstrom, injuries held them back, while Ovechkin simply didn’t show the drive that made him one of the best players in the NHL. All three should rebound as long as they are healthy. Also, the new face behind the bench, Adam Oates, should breathe a bit of life into the offensive side of the game as well as the power play.
Upside – They got rid of the enigmatic Alex Semin, who may have been dragging his countryman Ovechkin down with his demeanour and lack of consistency. Bringing in Riberio adds some insulation for Backstrom up the middle and provides a dangerous second option.
Downside – The health of Green has to be concerning, especially since the loss of Wideman on the power play. Green probably won’t get back to the 30 goal level, but 15 should be a target, meaning about 8 or 9 in a shortened season.
2013 Prognosis – The Capitals had pretty much everything go wrong for them in 2011-12 and still made the playoffs. Its hard to believe the “big 3″ would all have the same problems once again, meaning the Caps should be at least as good as they were, probably better. Whether or not they have the overall game to compete with the big guns in the East in the playoffs (Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York Rangers) remains to be seen, but if they can let them beat each other up they could pick up the scraps and advance pretty deep.