2017-18 Washington Capitals Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
The Washington Capitals are the boys who cry wolf. Every year they dominate the regular season - they have won three President's Trophies as regular season champs three times since 2010, including the last two years. And every year they fizzle out in the playoffs - but not before talking about how this year is going to be different and how they have solved the problems that plagued them previously. It's frankly getting tired.
And now they have some potential drama to deal with. The NHL has said that neither NHL players nor guys on AHL contracts can go to the Olympics. Alexander Ovechkin has always been adamant that he is representing his country in next Winter Games, and that hasn't changed. If he follows through - and there is no reason to think he won't - then he could miss nine regular-season games and potentially more if the league suspends him to exert their power. And until that time rolls around, it will serve as a distraction as reporters in every city will ask him and his teammates about it. And there is also a question about what Ovechkin will be regardless of whether he leaves or not. His 33 goals last year were enough to lead the team, but it was far from the 50-goal plateau he had reached each of the last three years. Ovechkin turns 32 in the middle of September (he and I share a birthday, albeit separated by a decade, so you can shop for both of us at the same time), and could pass 1,000 games with a full season this year, so it is no guarantee that he will bounce back.
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Washington Capitals Offseason Moves
The most dramatic thing the team did was decide that they weren't interested in overpriced, one-dimensional defensemen anymore. They let midseason acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk go to the Rangers for too much money and Karl Alzner go to Montreal for way too much money. Good moves, both of them. They also let Justin Williams leave and traded away Marcus Johansson for a couple of picks. That's some offense gone, but financially they had no choice. They had to re-up T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov in deals that combined to be worth well over $100 million over eight years and had to give some guys more modest raises as well.
The Caps were in a tough spot in the expansion draft because no matter what they were going to lose one of the more impactful players taken. They kept backup goalie Philipp Grubauer, who everyone assumed they would lose, but that meant they lost defender Nate Schmidt, who would have been a top four guy this season in all likelihood.
The changes and losses all mean that the team will be relying on young
players to fill gaps offensively and on the backend. In particularly, there
is an opportunity and a need for young players to step up and fill an
offensive role in the top six forwards, replacing Williams and Johansson.
Most significantly, 22-year-old Andre Burakovsky, who had four points in
two games replacing Ovechkin on the top line during the playoff loss to
Pittsburgh, needs to step up and shine.
Washington Capitals NHL Outlook
They might not have quite as much offense as they did last year, but they were third in the entire NHL behind Pittsburgh and Minnesota in goals, so they have some breathing room there, and they could be fine if Ovechkin recaptures his mojo. The defense might take a step back as well, but the goaltending will be strong. This team isn't as good as they were last year in all likelihood, but they are still a strong team with the potential to do some real damage in the regular season. They haven't done enough to improve, though, and haven't changed their mindset in any significant enough ways. They are still a team that is going to struggle to get over the hump in the playoffs, and that is still all that matters.
Washington Capitals Schedule
The team opens with eight of their first 12 games on the road, and don't play two in a row at home over that stretch. It's a rough October, but it's also a chance to make a pretty strong statement out of the gate.
Washington Capitals NHL Futures Odds
Bovada has Washington at +1400 to win the Stanley Cup, which has them in a five-way tie for fifth in the league behind favored Pittsburgh as well as Edmonton, Chicago and Dallas. BetOnline has Washington at +600 to win the East, which has them tied with Tampa Bay, behind only Pittsburgh at +450. They sit at +250 to win the Metropolitan, just behind Pittsburgh at +225. The season win total sits at 50.5, with the "under" a solid favorite. The team won 55 games last year.
2017-18 Washington Capitals Predictions
I wasn't optimistic about this team at crunch time last year or the year before, and it sure hasn't changed. They will win more games than most teams in the league, but I don't see them as a real threat when it really matters.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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