The Washington Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy in each of the last two campaigns, but this was a summer of subtraction for the club and that will make things more difficult going forward.
Re-signing Oshie to an eight-year, $46 million contract was one of the Capitals’ big accomplishments this summer. Their cap restraints led to them parting ways with a number of other veterans though, including forwards Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson as well as defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner, and Nate Schmidt (though Schmidt was taken in the expansion draft).
That’s quite a bit of talent shed and the Capitals will need their younger players to step up in order to fill that void. They’re also hoping for more of the same from Oshie after he scored a career-high 33 goals in 68 games last season.
Of course, even if the Capitals do excel in the regular season once again, the real test will be how they do in the playoffs. In each of the last two years they were eliminated by Pittsburgh in the second round and Washington hasn’t gotten further than that in the Alex Ovechkin era. You could argue that the margin between Washington and a championship is actually fairly narrow given that the Capitals took the eventual Cup winners to seven games, but regardless the pressure is on Washington.
Ovechkin will celebrate his 32nd birthday in September, so while he’s not past his prime yet, his age does emphasize that the Capitals’ window to win the Cup isn’t indefinite. That’s especially true given that the Capitals will have more potential challenges next summer given that John Carlson can become an UFA at that point and Philipp Grubauer can be a restricted free agent.