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2023-24 NHL East Preview: SENS vs WASHINGTON CAPITALS

SWOT Analysis of the Metropolitan division continues with the Washington Capitals who missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade last season.


Strengths


Aside from the fact that the Capitals boast some top-end talent such as Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson and Darcy Kuemper, there isn’t one aspect of their game that really sets them apart.


The once-vaunted power play was 15th in the league last season. Oddly enough, their penalty kill was better at 11th.


While teams shouldn’t overlook the Capitals, their name doesn’t mean what it once did. The Senators match up very well with this lineup with the sole exception being experience.


Weaknesses


Because of the money they have tied up in Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Carlson and even Tom Wilson, the rest of the lineup lacks depth at every position.


None of their top-end players are getting any better and their cap position didn’t allow them to improve themselves over the offseason.


The Max Pacioretty signing after two Achilles tears was a big risk/reward play which would suggest the Capitals don’t view their team the way I do. He won’t be available to start the season which suits their cap situation.


One of the weaknesses of this team, it could be argued, is their GM, Brian MacLellan. He chased Barry Trotz out of town after winning a Stanley Cup and it’s been a slow decline ever since. He didn’t assemble that championship team in 2018 but succeeded George McPhee just in time to take credit for it.


His five-year extension of Tom Wilson at $6.5 million was a head-scratcher to be sure.


Opportunities


Being a cap team, they will take advantage of the LTIR pool to do some CAPROBATICS. Aside from that, there are no blue chips prospects that are about to breakthrough into their lineup.

They do have experience on their side. Including Pacioretty, they boast 11 players aged 30 or more. This experience will win them some games.


At 29, Tom Wilson still represents a physical threat that should not be taken lightly. He still has game enough to be considered a legitimate power forward. You also never know when he is going to snap.


Like the Senators, the Capitals poached an assistant coach from the Maple Leafs, in Spencer Carbery, to be their head coach. He was Head Coach of their AHL team in Hershey for three seasons prior to going to Toronto. MacLellan obviously has familiarity with him.


Threats


The no movement clauses could limit their ability to build draft/prospect capital for a rebuild should they choose to go that route.


The Capitals, from my vantage point, are well into their greatest hits era where the primary goal will be to get Ovechkin from 822 to 895 in the next three years.


They do have some cost certainty in their lineup. However, it’s on aging players who are well past their primes.


It’s hard to see where Maclellan is taking the Capitals with the way the team is being built. Nothing he is doing suggests a rebuild is in the offing. Nothing suggests that he is building a team that can seriously compete with the heavy hitters in the Eastern Conference.


The Senators outmatch them at every position, and they should look stock up on points against the aging Capitals.


They won’t be awful. They may even be entertaining. They also should easily be a lottery team.


Prediction: 7TH IN THE METROPOLITAN DIVISION

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