Metropolitan Division 2014-15 Preview: Washington Capitals

2014-15 NHL Metropolitan Division preview: Washington Capitals begin Barry Trotz era
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Best case scenarios for Eastern Conference teams

COACH:

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)

NOTABLE ARRIVALS: D Matt Niskanen, D Brooks Orpik, G Justin Peters, F Chris Conner

NOTABLE DEPARTURES: C Mikhail Grabovski, D Tyson Strachan, G Jaroslav Halak

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards

Brooks Laich — Nicklas Backstrom — Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera — Marcus Johansson — Troy Brouwer
Eric Fehr — Jay Beagle — Joel Ward
Evgeny Kuznetsov — Michael Latta — Tom Wilson

Defensemen

Brooks Orpik — John Carlson
Karl Alzner — Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov — Mike Green

Goalies 

Braden Holtby
Justin Peters

The three keys to the Washington Capitals' defense initiative

Penguins

• Ovechkin at career crossroads

Alex Ovechkin still key to the retooled Washington Capitals

PLAYER TO WATCH: Evgeny Kuznetsov

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)

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