2018 Washington Capitals Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
It seems almost certain that no player has ever had more fun after winning the Cup than Alex Ovechkin did this year. And he deserves it after the career he has had and the year he put together last year. Now we have to figure out if there is going to be a Stanley Cup hangover for this team - or if they are still actually hungover after their celebrations, for that matter. They are going into this season with as close to the same team as they had last year as you can get - with one odd and obvious exception - so the ceiling is obvious for the team. But the East is tougher than last year, and the West is deeper than ever. It's going to be a heck of a fight for the Cup this year, but Washington is certainly a player.
Washington Capitals Offseason Moves
Congratulations, Barry Trotz, on leading our team to a Stanley Cup. Now pack your stuff. In a truly bizarre decision, the Capitals were unwilling to pay market value to the coach who just won them a Cup and is exceptionally good at his job, so he resigned and went to the Islanders. To replace him the team elevated Todd Reirden, who has never been an NHL head coach but was an assistant in Pittsburgh for four years before joining the Capitals as an assistant under Trotz for all four years he was here. The transition should be reasonably smooth, but that makes the situation no less odd.
The Capitals were able to exploit a loophole that absolutely needs to be closed this offseason. They like defenseman Brooks Orpik but weren't willing to pay him the $5.5 million left on the final year of his contract. So, when they traded away backup goalie Philipp Grubauer - who they had to deal because they couldn't pay him what he was worth - to Colorado they threw in Orpik and got a second-round pick - otherwise below market value for Grubauer. Colorado immediately bought out Orpik's contract, and he returned to Washington for one year at $1 million. Instant, significant savings.
Other than Grubauer, there weren't a ton of changes of note. Jay Beagle is gone after the Canucks overpaid him dramatically for the fourth-line forward on a four-year deal. And the most noteworthy addition is a flyer from the KHL - Sergei Shumakov is a 25-year-old forward, and they are paying little to get a look at him for a year. The biggest move of the offseason didn't involve change but maintaining the status quo. Defenseman John Carlson was locked down for eight years to anchor this back end. It was a big deal, and he is worth every penny.
With Grubauer out, they need a new backup behind Braden Holtby. And they hope it will be Ilya Samsonov, their 2015 first-round pick who has been playing in the KHL for the last three years. He might start in the AHL to get some seasoning in the North American game, but he is the future. 2014 late-round pick Shane Gersich, a forward, is the other rookie who will be given a good chance to make the roster. This year's first-rounder, defenseman Alexander Aleyev, who is playing junior in Canada, is still a couple of years off.
Washington Capitals NHL Outlook
It's going to come down to hunger. They have a well-built and proven team. They can absolutely compete again - and will very likely again play Pittsburgh for divisional superiority and the berth in the Easter final. They don't have a lot of holes, and as long as age doesn't catch up with some guys - most notably Ovechkin - they have the talent to burn. We know pretty much exactly what they are, and that is one of the top contenders in the league -- there isn't much more to say than that.
Washington Capitals Schedule
Washington plays Boston, Pittsburgh and Vegas in the first three games and Toronto in Game 5. This sure is no easy way to ease into a title defense.
Washington Capitals NHL Futures Odds
The Capitals are at +1100 to repeat as Stanley Cup champions at Bovada , which has them tied with Vegas and Nashville and behind only Toronto, Winnipeg and Tampa. Washington won their division with 105 points last year, but oddsmakers have their point total set at just 97.5 this season. Ovechkin is the fifth choice to win the Hart Trophy as MVP at +1100, behind McDavid, Crosby, Tavares and Matthews. Kuznetsov is at +5000, and Backstrom is at the same price.
2018-19 Washington Capitals Predictions
The points total seems low, so the "over" is playable there. I would bet against a repeat championship, but only because the East has at least three more teams about as good, and the West has perhaps three as well after San Jose added Erik Karlsson. Five or six very good teams will be left with nothing to show from their season. But this is a team ready for another big season.
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