October 18, 2017

Building a lineup out of the Caps’ castaways

Mike Ribeiro addressing media during Washington Capitals Development Camp Day 6 Scrimmage at Kettler,  7/14/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Mike Ribeiro addressing media during Washington Capitals Development Camp Day 6 Scrimmage at Kettler, 7/14/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

After seeing Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro torch the Washington Capitals last Saturday, fans in the Verizon Center were left wondering, what if?

What if former general manager George McPhee had held onto the team’s top prospect in Forsberg and found a way to re-sign Ribeiro? Would those players be producing at the rate they are now for the Nashville Predators? How much better would a Caps’ team that lacks secondary scoring look with Forsberg’s 59 points and Ribeiro’s 60?

Those are the questions that will keep fans up at night.

There are a variety of reasons why players will leave a team. Sometimes it is due to trades, some players clash with coaches or teammates, neither side can agree on the terms of a contract, etc. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

The mark of a good administration, however, is being able to recognize, develop and keep talent. That’s what makes Forsberg’s success sting so much.

Given the success of Forsberg and Ribeiro, one has to wonder how much talent have the Caps let slip from their roster? To answer that question, I’ve put together a lineup based just on former Caps who are still in the league.

NOTE: This roster is made up of players whose rights formerly belonged to the Caps and who have appeared in at least one NHL game this season. It is not all of the former Caps still in the league. Not all players are playing their natural positions, but hey, you have to work with what you have:

Forward lines:

Tomas Fleischmann – Mike Ribeiro – Filip Forsberg

Dainius Zubrus – Mikhail Grabovski – Jaromir Jagr

Mathieu Perreault – Cody Eakin – Alex Semin

Matt Hendricks – Boyd Gordon – Martin Erat

Defensive pairs:

Scott Hannan – Dennis Wideman

Jack Hillen – Sergei Gonchar

Jeff Schultz – Tyson Strachan

Goalies:

Semyon Varlamov, Jaroslav Halak

Poor Erat. He just can’t buy a break.

With an average age of 31.2 years, this is an incredibly old lineup (the oldest NHL roster this season is New Jersey’s 30.0). That’s to be expected as youth is an asset that teams will work harder to keep.

Offensively, this team would certainly not lack for scoring. With a player like Alex Ovechkin on the roster, the Caps could afford to let go of some pretty significant offensive talent, but with secondary scoring now an issue for the Caps, there’s no doubt they would benefit from still having player like Fleischmann and Perreault.

Defensively, this lineup is hot garbage. Hannan-Wideman is a lousy top pair, Hillen is a a sixth defenseman at best and certainly should not be in the top four, Gonchar is 40 years old and a pair of Schultz-Strachan would not even be a top pair on several AHL teams.

There’s no doubt the current stable of blue liners for the Caps is far superior. Being able to hold onto players like John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Mike Green (at least for now) and Dmitry Orlov while not retaining these six players is a good sign that at least the team has held onto its best defensive talent.

In net, both Varlamov and Halak have shown flashes of greatness throughout their careers, but both lack the stability Braden Holtby has shown this season. It’s hard to imagine either Varlamov or Halak being able to handle a workload of 66 starts as Holtby has thus far.

It would seem that over the years the Caps, led primarily by McPhee, have made the right personnel moves in terms of defense and goaltending, but have let far too much offensive talent come and go. Could this have been an over-reliance by McPhee on Ovechkin and Backstrom? Given that they account for over $16 million of the team’s cap space, that seems like a safe bet.

If today’s Caps were to play their castaways in a game, who do you think would win?

About J.J. Regan

J.J. Regan is a contributor to District Sports Page. He also is a college football and NHL blogger for CSNwashington.com and CSNbaltimore.com and has a master's degree in interactive journalism from American University. Regan follows all DC sports but focuses mainly on the the Caps and college football. You can view his online portfolio at regansports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheDC_Sportsguy.

Comments

  1. You left Johnny Oduya. He was drafted by the caps.

%d bloggers like this: