Which player can caps least afford to lose to injury in playoffs to win cup: 08/19/92/70? (have to pick 1) - @OV3CHK1NG
Excellent question and that’s quite a list: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Braden Holtby. Honestly, I don’t think the Caps could win the Cup if one of those guys went down for an extended period, especially if an injury came late in the regular season or early in the post-season. The most logical answer to your question would be Braden Holtby, who should be the runaway winner of this year’s Vezina Trophy. But as good as Holtby has been – and he’s been great – I honestly believe the Caps could make a deep run with Philipp Grubauer between the pipes and that’s a credit to goaltending coach Mitch Korn. As much as I like what Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom have done this season, I think the Caps could survive without one of them. That, of course, leaves Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 42 goals. Heading into tonight’s game against the Predators the Caps are 31-5-0 when Ovechkin scores a goal and 19-7-5 when he plays and doesn’t score. They’re also 0-2-0 and have been outscored 10-2 in the two games Ovechkin has missed. So if I had to pick one player the Caps can’t live without if they want to win the Cup, it’s Ovi.
Q: GMBM got an absolute bargain steal signing Kuzy, shouldn't they lock him up long-term now & at what price? - @CapsYapp
I agree that Brian MacLellan did some shrewd negotiating by signing Evgeny Kuznetsov to a two-year, $6 million extension that pays him $2.6 million this season and $3.4 million next season (for a cap hit of $3 million). Remember, that deal was struck after Kuznetsov had an 11-goal, 26-assist season, so the Caps had some leverage. Now that he’s leading the Caps with 70 points in 69 games, Kuznetsov has all the leverage. That said, I’d be surprised if the Caps and Kuznetsov agreed to an extension any time before the midway point of next season. As for the price, you’d think it would start at $5 million a season and go north pretty quickly after year one.
do you see Johansson getting traded at the draft? - @kaplunm
That’s a very good question. The answer depends on whether the Caps plan on committing to UFAs Jason Chimera and/or Mike Richards and how much they’re willing to spend on each. It also depends on what they’re willing to play RFAs Tom Wilson and Dmitry Orlov. And, as noted above, the Caps have to take into account how much cap space Kuznetsov may take up following next season. Right now, the Caps have $58.6 million committed to nine forwards, six defensemen and two goalies next season, when the NHL salary cap is expected to escalate to roughly $74.4 million. If Brian MacLellan decides he cannot fit Johansson, who is making $3.75 million, into that $15.8 million allotment, yes, we could see Johansson dealt at the draft, especially if he’s seeking somewhere in the $5 million range.
GMBM had the #Caps window at 2 years. Do you think with the slow start issues the last while, this team can win it all? - @Sheangus
I agree with MacLellan on the Caps’ window and yes, I think the Caps can win it all. First, let’s talk about the window. The Caps have eight of their top 12 forwards and six of their top eight defensemen under contract for next season, along with both goalies. However, if you look beyond next season, the Caps have only three forwards (Ovechkin, Backstrom and Jay Beagle), four defensemen (Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson and Taylor Chorney) under contract, along with Braden Holtby. So the Caps are looking at some kind of reload following next season. As for their slow starts, allowing the first goal in 14 of their last 17 games, I’m not overly concerned because the energy level is ramped up several notches at the start of playoff games and the Caps should snap to attention once Game 1 of the playoffs begins. With the experience, overall depth and goaltending the Caps possess, they are a legitimate threat to win it all. But this is why they play the games.
since Ovi is still bothered by LBI - will he get rest before regular season is over? Do you see a rotation of days off? - @Terpinyc
I don’t. If Ovechkin is given any time off I could see it coming in the last weekend of the season when the Caps are in St. Louis on April 9 and at home against the Anaheim Ducks the next night. I could see Barry Trotz resting a few of his players in those two games while getting Michael Latta, Stan Galiev and Mike Weber some game action. But to start spotting guys in and out of the lineup would be a mistake in my opinion, unless a player is suffering from an injury that requires healing. By the way, Trotz said Thursday that any player who thinks he can float through the remainder of the regular season is “absolutely wrong” and setting himself up for failure.
Q: Given the possibility of expansion of 2 teams, IYO which available Caps would be most likely plucked away? - @CapsYapp
It all depends on which 11 players the Caps make available. Depending on his role on the team and the prospects coming up, the Caps might make Brooks Orpik available. If that happened and I was the general manager of an expansion team, I’d take him, given his experience and positive influence in the locker room. Since teams would only be able to protect one goalie, I think Philipp Grubauer would definitely be snatched up if he’s still with the Caps. Defensemen Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov would also be attractive pickups if the Caps made them available, but I’d go with Grubauer and Orpik.
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