Washington Capitols Team Report
By Neil BeckerEmbed from Getty Images
The most important off-season move took place in late July when Washington Capitals management signed captain Alex Ovechkin to a five-year $47.5 million dollar contract extension.
Ovechkin, who was drafted first overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Capitals, has played 16 seasons with Washington and has scored 730 goals along with 1,320 points in 1,197 career games. This 35 year old future hockey hall of famer, who is sixth on the all- time goal scoring list, trails Wayne Gretzky, the all-time leader by only 164 goals. Last season, this skilled Russian and Washington’s most popular player was still productive with 24 goals and 42 points.
Another major re-signing came in goal where 24 year old Ilya Samsonov agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million dollars. Selected 22nd overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Samsonov played in only 19 regular season games last year where he posted a 13-4-1 record with a 2.69 G.A.A.
Meanwhile, leaving Washington was Unrestricted Free Agent goalie Craig Anderson who signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres for $750,000. Anderson, who is 40 years-old, played last season only four games with Washington where he ended up with a 2-1 record along with a 2.13 GAA.
In late August, veteran goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who played 15 seasons with the New York Rangers, made it official that he was calling it a career. Prior to last season, this 39 year old goalie agreed to a one-year deal with the Capitals but due to a heart issue couldn’t play.
Back in late July, the expansion Seattle Kraken selected Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek. Not long afterwards, Washington re-acquired the 25 year old goalie for a 2023 second round draft pick. Vanecek is coming off a season which saw him go 21-10-4 with a 2.69 G.A.A.
A big decision on the blueline is whether to bring back veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara who is 44 years old. This future hall of famer, who has played in the NHL since 1996 spent last season as a Washington Capital. Providing leadership, muscle and a heavy shot, Chara scored two goals along with 10 points in 55 games last year. As of late August, he has remained mute about his future.
Another decision is whether to sign 27 year old Unrestricted Free Agent Paul LaDue who played 18 games with the Caps AHL’s affiliate Hershey Bears and scored 3 goals along with 8 points.
Washington must also make a decision on another unrestricted free agent defenceman in 32 year old Cameron Schilling who last year played 31 games for Hershey where he scored 4 goals and 19 points.
The organization has also signed unrestricted free agent defenceman Lucas Johansen to a one year two- way contract. This 6’2” 182 pound 23 year old blue liner, had last season two assist in five games for Hershey.
Also signing with Washington was 33 year old depth defenceman Matt Irwin who agreed to a one year two-way contract. Last year with the last place Buffalo Sabres, he played 24 games and registered two assists and was a minus 10.
In adding some toughness, Washington also went out and signed gritty defenceman Dylan Mcilrath to a two-year two -way contract. This 6’5” 231 pounder, who is 29 years old, played 29 games last year for the AHL’s Grand River Rapids where he scored two goals along with eight points.
Early August saw the Capitals add some offensive depth as they went out and inked 28- year-old forward Mike Vecchione to a one-year two-way contract. This past season, he played 18 games for the AHL’s Colorado Eagles “A” where he scored seven goals and 10 points.
Meanwhile departing Washington is depth forward Daniel Carr who will be returning this fall to HC Lugano in Switzerland who play out of the National League.
Last year the 29 year old played six games with Washington where he picked up two assists. He also competed in eight games with Lugano where he scored four goals and eight points.
Agreeing to a one year, two-way contract extension was left winger Beck Malenstyn who missed the entire 2021 season after tearing his Achilles tendon in December 2020.
Washington should comfortably make the playoffs next spring and are capable of winning a couple of rounds but won’t compete for the Stanley Cup.