The Washington Capitals have had many playoff failures in the past. They have been playing more of a heavy physical game and at somepoint, they need to go to a speed and skill game. Washington lost Marcus Johansson and Kevin Shattenkirk in the offseason. Washington also signed players to big contracts that they are going to need players in there system to contribute in 2017-2018 and beyond.
10. Nathan Walker, forward: Walker is 23 years old and he was drafted by the Capitals in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft. He is a good skater and Walker scored 11 goals and recorded 12 goals in 58 games with the Hershey Bears (AHL) last season. His plus/minus was 11. In 12-playoff games, he scored two goals and recorded four assists. Walker was just recently signed to a two-year two-way contract with the Capitals.
9. Shane Gersich, center/forward: Gersich is a very versatile offensive player. The Capitals hope that could transition to the NHL level one day for him. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Gersich scored 21 goals and recorded 16 assists in 40 games with the University of North Dakota last season. His plus/minus was 16. Gersich will play again at the college level this season and maybe the Capitals will give him a contract sometime soon.
8. Lucas Johansen, defenseman: Johansen is a future gem on defense for the Capitals. He is 19 years old and was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. In 68 games with the Kelowna Rockets (WHL) last season, Johansen scored 6 goals and recorded 35 assists. His plus/minus was 23 which is outstanding. In 17-playoff games, he recorded eight assists. They signed him to a three-year entry-level contract. That means he will start the season with the Hershey Bears (AHL). It is very possible he could play in a couple of games with Washington this season, but I don’t think they want to rush his development. Johansen is a solid play maker.
7. Riley Barber, forward: Barber was taken in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL Draft. It is now or never for him to crack the Washington Capitals roster. In 39 games with the Hershey Bears (AHL) last season, he scored 13 goals and recorded 14 assists. His plus/minus was 4. In 12-playoff games, Barber scored one goal and recorded four assists.
6. Jonas Siegenthaler, defenseman: Siegenthaler isn’t going to be known for his offensive game, but the Capitals drafted him knowing he could be a possible shutdown defenseman one day. Siegenthaler’s height 6’3″ and weight 220 lbs is what makes him a physical specimen. However, his defensive game could also use improvement because of his plus/minus. With Zurich SC (Swiss-A) in 28 games last season, his plus/minus was only a 1. Siegenthaler only scored one goal but recorded six assists. He appeared in seven games last season with the Hershey Bears, but Siegenthaler didn’t score a goal or record an assist. His plus/minus was two.
5. Madison Bowey, defenseman: Bowey is expected to be one of the six starting defenseman for the Washington Capitals this season. He missed time last season because of a tendon in the ankle that lacerated. In 34 games last season with the Hershey Bears, Bowey scored 3 goals and recorded 11 assists. His plus/minus was 6. In 10-playoff games, Bowey scored two goals and assists. He also has a wicked right handed shot.
4. Travis Boyd, forward: Boyd is dangerous anytime he touches the puck. He is known for his play making ability, but Boyd is also a solid scorer. In 76 games with the Hershey Bears (AHL) last season, Boyd scored 16 goals and recorded 47 assists. His plus/minus was 19. In 12-playoff games, he scored one goal and recorded 7 assists. He will definitely compete for a roster spot, but if Boyd doesn’t make the Capitals opening night roster it won’t be a bad thing. Boyd needs his reps if he isn’t going to be in the lineup.
3. Christian Djoos, defenseman: Djoos has a left handed shot which gives the Capitals some opportunity to be creative with their lineup. He is projected to be on the second line of defense this season with John Carlson. Djoos scored 13 goals and recorded 45 assists in 66 games last season with the Hershey Bears (AHL). His plus/minus was a 9. It wouldn’t be shocking at some point in the 2017-2018 season if he was on the top power play unit. In 12-playoff games, he scored 2 goals and recorded 6 assists.
2. Ilya Samsonov, goalie: Samsonov is only 20 years old and he could be the future Washington Capitals goalie one day. At some point, Philip Grubauer probably won’t be backing up Braden Holtby anymore and Grubauer will be a starter somewhere else. Samsonov has very high upside and is athletic. His record with Magnitogorsk Metallurg (KHL) last season was 15-3-5 with a .936 percentage and a 2.13 GAA,a long with two shutouts. Samsonov will probably sign an entry-level contract at the end of the 2017-2018 season with the Capitals. Interestingly enough, Holtby is a free-agent after the 2019-2020 season, so that might open the door for Samsonov to be the future goalie.
1.Jakub Vrana, center: Vrana was drafted #13 overall in the 2014 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals. He is expected to play a major role with the Capitals this season. Vrana plays with speed and he has good offensive instincts. He will probably play on the second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky. Vrana actually played in 21 games with the Capitals last season. He scored three goals and assists. His plus/minus was 2. In 49 games with the Hershey Bears (AHL), Vrana scored 19 goals and recorded 17 assists. His plus/minus was 12. In seven-playoff games, Vrana didn’t score a goal or record an assist.