By Ben Sullivan
The Capitals have a wealth of talent that won the Stanley Cup in 2018:
The Russian superstar continues to excel. As an example, in Ovechkin’s extensive 14 season-long career, he has had eight 50 and over season goals. Last season was no different. The NHL All-Star has improved his defensive game since previous years and improved in fitness to match. Look to see the great eight continue to power through opposition and dominate the “Ovi Lane”. Ovechkin’s frustration and performance depend on the other members of his team to step up.
It will be interesting to see if the Kuznetsov of previous years will return. The 2010 first-round pick achieved respectable offensive numbers, with 21 goals, 51 assists for 72 points. But failed to have the same enthusiasm and drive that made him a superstar. Kuznetsov’s faceoff win percentage last season was 38.7 and the Corsi for was 48.3%, the worst stats since his rookie season for the Capitals. It is hoped previous demons are in the past and will not blemish a successful career so far.
Vrana development progress is exciting to watch. The young forward has untapped speed and has the potential to replace Veteran top six when the opportunity arises. In three short seasons, Vrana has taken more responsibility and become a permanent fixture with all 82 games played last season. This is a difficult task within the Capitals organization for one so young. This progress did not go unnoticed as Vrana was re-signed for a further two years with a significant pay rise. Vrana played just over 14 minutes last season and will look to extend this.
It is guaranteed that the Capitals will be amongst the top teams in the Metropolitan Division again this season. Highly stacked with talent and seasons of expert experience will ensure that. When they play their best, the Capitals can beat any team in the league, but the team struggles with inconsistency, particularly in the playoffs. It solely depends on the bottom six as well as the elite top six and their willingness to perform when pressured to achieve playoff success.