Monday, July 10, 2017

Time to Eulogize the Capitals?

It's been a rather interesting time for the Washington Capitals, as they have not only failed to make the Conference Finals in any of Alex Ovechkin's time there, but now there are many questions of whether their window of winning a Stanley Cup is about to slam shut.

To understand where the Capitals are in terms of potential salary cap hell, a spot currently occupied by the Los Angeles Kings and however it shakes out in the future, the Montreal Canadiens, let's look at the Capitals since the off-season began. They signed TJ Oshie to an eight-year extension, which isn't bad until you realize that he's going to be 38 by the time his contract ends and that is far too much term and possibly money, as it's a $5.75 million hit per year according to CapFriendly, for a player that simply isn't a leading guy. Next, the failure to buy out Brooks Orpik's contract meant that the Capitals risked losing a defender in the expansion draft, which they did, when Nate Schmidt was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights. This year's draft can be considered a waste for the Capitals, as they didn't have a pick in the first three rounds, and the picks they did make may very well have little to no impact in the long run. With the start of free agency, they lost Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Williams, and Karl Alzner on the first day. While losing Williams isn't a fatal blow in the long run, Shattenkirk will be the scar of another playoff failure, as a first round pick in this year's draft was the cost of a Shattenkirk rental while Alzner was a reliable player on the blue line. It should be noted that they also extended Dmirty Orlov for five years, which takes effect after next season. Meanwhile, Evgeny Kuznetsov was signed to an eight-year deal, which carries a near-$8 million hit annually. In case you're asking, they also signed Andre Burakovsky to a two-year, $3 million bridge deal and will have another year of Phillipp Grubauer, both of whom carry reasonable cap hits.

Where the Capitals stand, they need to find six other warm bodies and only have a shade over $4 million to play with. They have at least three years of Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, Kuznetsov, and Holtby left, so their window is really closing, and seemingly, they can ill-afford another Shattenkirk situation, as they will need to soon replenish their prospect pool in everywhere except in goal, as they appear pretty well-stocked there. The reality is that at some point, the Capitals will fall by the wayside in pretty much the same manner that Vancouver Canucks have from 2010 (their height) up until now.

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