2014-15 NHL Metropolitan Division preview: Washington Capitals begin Barry Trotz era
2013-14 RECORD: 38-30-14, 90 points (fifth in Metropolitan, missed playoffs)
VITAL SIGNS: 2.7 goals per game (13th), 2.8 goals-against per game (21st); 23.4 power play pct. (2nd); 82.0 penalty kill pct. (16th); shootout record: 10-11 (19th)
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Washington's 2010 first round pick (26th) wears a high number (92), he’s young (22), blindingly fast and blessed with impressive skills. Intrigued yet? The Capitals certainly are. The Russian center turned in nine points (three goals, six assists) during a 17-game stint with the big club last season, and lofty expectations will follow Kuznetsov into his first full year in the NHL. He’ll probably shift from wing to center, a position that will put him in the thick of the Capitals’ attack as opposing defenses focus on the top unit of Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. It remains to be seen how Kuznetsov’s relatively slight frame (6', 172 pounds) will handle the day-in, day-out grind of the league, but it’s not a stretch to see him racking up points and bidding for the Calder Trophy.
PREDICTION: 82 points (sixth in Metropolitan)