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No mocking: A look at Capitals' draft plan


No mocking: A look at Capitals' draft plan

PITTSBURGH -- For better or for worse, before the end of tonight George McPhee will have shaped the future of the Capitals, if not with a new head coach then certainly with a draft pick or two.

While reports of Adam Oates moving ahead of Mike Haviland and Jon Cooper circulated in the hours before the NHL draft 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network, McPhee and his amateur scouts were busy putting the finishing touches on their draft list.

The Caps own the 11th and 16th picks of tonights draft, which is top-heavy with defensemen. Because of that, many draftniks have the Caps going for a blue liner with their 11th pick and a scoring forward at No. 16.

Seems like a sound strategy for a team that already has a stable of young defensemen but is short on high-end forwards.

So, assuming McPhee does not trade away his two picks, whom might the Caps select at No. 11 and No. 16.

At No. 11, here are a few options:

Matt Dumba, D, Red Deer WHL
The 6-foot, 183-pounder was named WHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games. Described as a fearless hitter who can impact the game with his speed and offensive skills.

Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland WHL
The 6-foot, 181-pounder cranked out 59 points in 72 games and added 17 points in 22 playoff games. Described as a smart, composed defenseman who can play well at both ends of the rink but could use some more nastiness.

Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton WHL
The son of former NHL defenseman Paul Reinhart, Griffin is one of the biggest blue liners in the 2012 draft class at 6-foot-4, 202 pounds. Hes also one of the most physical and many believe hes just a year or two from being a dominant presence on an NHL power play and penalty kill. In his second year in Edmonton, Griffin had 12 goals, 24 assists and 38 penalty minutes in 58 games.

Jacob Trouba, D, U.S. Development Program
At 6-2, 193 pounds, Trouba might be the grittiest of all the high-end defensive prospects and although he wont light the lamp like Pouliot, he could turn out to be one of the most reliable two-way defenders of the draft.

Olli Maata, D, London OHL
Listed at 6-2, 198, Maata played for the London Knights last season and that could tip the scales in his favor with the Capitals. An all-round defenseman who uses his size well, Maata can lug the puck up the ice as well as any defenseman in the draft and plays a consistent game. A concussion late in the season could raise some concerns.

And at No. 16, here are a few more options.

Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener OHL
At 6-foot-3, 202 pounds many see the Czech center as a first- or second-line power forward who uses his body well to shield the puck and create offense. Hes been compared favorably to Rookie of the Year finalist Gabriel Landeskog.

Sebastien Collberg, RW Frolunda Sweden
A Swedish speedster, Collberg is often linked to the Capitals because of his comparisons to Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. Hes not small 5-foot 11, 176 pounds but his greatest asset is his quickness and speed and he is very solid in his defensive zone. He he;ped lead Sweden to gold in the World Juniors.

Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque USHL
Perhaps no one in the draft holds more intrigue than this 6-foot-2, 200-pound Latvian. He played for former NHLer Jim Montgomery, who compared his work ethic to Rod BrindAmours. With those kind of credentials, if Girgensons is still around at No. 16, the Caps should grab him.

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Key Caps questions: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?


Key Caps questions: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

Tarik: The term ‘Stanley Cup Hangover’ exists because, well, it’s a real thing. And the Caps, like all teams that battle into early June, are vulnerable to suffering from it next season.

Why? Think about it. No. 1, the core group just completed the longest season—106 games—of their lives (and, somewhere, the party is still going). No. 2, the top guys aren't exactly a bunch of spring chickens. No. 3, human nature.

A little more on that last one. Alex Ovechkin and Co. have spent the entirety of their professional hockey careers chasing Lord Stanley’s Cup. And now they have it. At long last. Hoisting the Cup was as much a moment to cherish as it was a gigantic relief for a team that had been labeled perennial underachievers. Shifting gears from that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment back to hunger and determination is difficult.

Something else that worries me a bit? They don’t have experience dealing with a truncated offseason. Rest and recovery matter. And they aren’t going to get much of either this summer.

All that said, they don’t have to stumble through the 2018-19 season. If you're looking at things from the optimist's point of view, the Cup run did something for Ovechkin and his teammates that none of the previous failures could: It showed them EXACTLY what it takes to play deep into the spring.

Eleven out of 12 forwards from the championship squad are expected back. Five of six defensemen and the goalie are returning, as well. Sure, they’ve got a new head coach, but he’s been here for four years already, giving him a huge advantage over a bench boss who’s starting from scratch. So there’s continuity and chemistry already built in.

I look at it like this: The core guys who’ve been around a while—Ovechkin, Backstrom, Carlson, Holtby, etc.—have a rare opportunity before them. After coming up short for so many years, they’ve been gifted an extraordinary chance to make up for lost time over the next 12-24 months. In fact, Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Oshie, Eller, Carlson, Niskanen, Orlov, Kempny and Holtby have two more years together, as a core, before the next round of tough decisions will need to be made.

But it’s going to be up to them. Are they going to be satisfied with one Cup? Or will they get greedy? I’m betting on the latter.

Regan: The Capitals could enter next season hungry, motivated, in the right mindset, completely prepared in every way to avoid a Cup hangover and it may still happen. Why? Because the Capitals (and Vegas for that matter) will enter next season with less time to rest, recover and prepare after a grueling playoff run than any other team in the NHL.

First things first, no, I do not think the Caps will struggle because they are are partying too hard this summer and won't be ready for the start of the season.

It took a long time Washington to finally reach the top of the mountain. It won't be lost on Alex Ovechkin, or any of the veterans, that the year he came into training camp early and in really good shape, that was the year he was able to lead his team to the promised land. Considering all the struggles, all the early playoff exits, all the years it took to finally win, I expect the veterans will look at how they prepared last season and take that lesson to heart going into camp. Those players will enter the fall in as good a shape as the time they have this offseason will allow them to be.

But this team is not just composed of veterans of the Ovechkin era who suffered through all of those postseason struggles.

What about the youngsters? Will Jakub Vrana have the same motivation as Ovechkin or a Nicklas Backstrom to show up to camp ready next season? What about Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey? If any of the team's young players aren't exactly in "game shape" by the fall, they won't be the first and they certainly won't be the last to struggle with early career playoff success.

There's also a new head coach to consider. In a lot of ways, I think coming into the season with a new coach in Todd Reirden will help. I don't expect too much adjustment under a coach the team knows very well, but I do expect more motivation at the start of the regular season than you usually see from a team coming off a championship.

There are a lot of reasons why the Caps could actually avoid a Cup hangover, but the fact is that time puts them at a disadvantage. Even if they overcome all the other factors, there's nothing they can do to suddenly give themselves more time to recover and to train. For that reason alone, I do expect a few early-season struggles from the defending champs.

Other key questions

How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

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Capitals' T.J. Oshie had so much fun golfing, drinking through shirt again at celebrity golf tournament

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo may have won the American Century Championships celebrity golf tournament this weekend, but T.J. Oshie definitely had the most fun.

Using the Modified Stableford scoring format for the tournament — which included several pro and retired athletes, such as Steph Curry, Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, Charles Barkley and Joe Pavelski — Oshie finished with 11 points, tying for 48th with NFL Hall of Famer Tim Brown and Golf Channel host Lisa Cornwell. 

But the Capitals' winger's score didn't really matter because Oshie was out on the Lake Tahoe golf course in Nevada just having fun with his family and continuing the epic celebration as a new Stanley Cup champion. Obviously, that meant playing and chugging a beer through his t-shirt as 'We Are The Champions' played.

His brother, Taylor, was his caddy, and at one point, Oshie borrowed his brother's beer helmet while putting. He sunk it, and it was amazing.

Yeah, Oshie had a great weekend. Here's a look at some other moments from his weekend on Lake Tahoe.