The Washington Capitals were one of the best teams in the NHL last season, running away with their division en route to 118 points and their second Presidents’ Trophy in two seasons. Of course, the Capitals once again fell short of a Stanley Cup with yet another playoff disappointment, but there’s no denying that they were a dominant force throughout the 2016-17 regular season.
Will the Caps be as good in the 2017-18 regular season? According to T.J. Oshie, probably not.
Oshie spoke with NHL.com, explaining that the Capitals lost a lot of good players over the summer and will need more from their entire roster.
“We lost a lot of really, really good players, and I think we knew that was going to happen. Now we’re going to need a lot of younger guys to fill in for a lot of different roles.”
This list of players who won’t be returning for the Caps is loaded with talent. Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner, Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson have all departed and now the attention is on the team’s younger stars – such as Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana – to step up and contribute.
Because of all of the roster changes, Oshie is expecting a much closer regular season race.
“I don’t expect us to run away with it like we did the past couple years in the regular season.”
Realistically, Capitals fans are probably pretty tired of their team dominating in the regular season while stumbling in the playoffs. Any Caps fan would be happy to trade a dominant season for a mediocre one if it meant a deeper playoff run.
Oshie added that the team needs to get out of the habit of relying on its biggest stars.
“But again, we can’t rely on one or two or three guys to make or break us. We will really need to make it a group effort to make up for players that we’ve lost and to help lead the young guys that are now going to be stepping in.”
The upcoming regular season could prove to be more challenging for the Capitals, but maybe that’s a good thing. After bowing out in the playoffs earlier than expected, maybe the Capitals need to be tested a bit more in the regular season so that they’re more prepared come playoff time. Grit and mental toughness are pretty difficult – if not impossible – to prove in the NHL. Still, the Capitals fighting harder in the regular season could translate to the team packing a bit more of a punch in the playoffs when the games really matter.