As the calendar hits 2013, there are still questions whether there will be an NHL season. Regardless, the Washington Capitals made great strides over the past year, including key additions to their prospect pool including Tom Wilson and Filip Forsberg along with a big year in goal by potential Capitals goalie of the future, Braden Holtby. As 2013 gets underway, The Hockey Writers ranks all Washington Capitals players based on how far away they are from reaching the NHL, their position and where they fit on the depth chart. Past performance, Capitals plans for the future and player projections were used to develop the 2013 rankings. This article breaks down Washington’s NHL ready players.
Ovechkin looks to bounce back in 2013, following a subpar 2011-2012 campaign as captain for the Capitals. A new coach in Adam Oates could certainly help.
2. Nicklas Backstrom
Backstrom will need to stay healthy to post numbers like he has in the past, but is a cornerstone as Washington moves forward under new leadership. He can play many roles including shutdown forward, power play specialist and penalty killer.
3. Filip Forsberg
Washington’s first round pick from the 2012 NHL entry has been a big factor for Sweden in World Juniors so far, and projects as top line forward for the Capitals. He’s playing in Sweden this year, but expect Forsberg in Washington for the long term beginning in the 2013-2014 season.
4. Mike Ribeiro
The Capitals acquired Ribeiro at the 2012 NHL entry draft in exchange for forward prospect Cody Eakin and a second round pick. They expect Mike to take control of the second line center in the lineup, along with becoming a main asset on the power play. With his contract set to expire, Ribeiro could be in for a pay day with a big year in a shortened season.
5. Evgeny Kuznetsov
Washington selected Kuznetsov with their first round pick in the 2010 draft, and expect big things from him. He will play in Russia for the next two seasons, counting this one, and should be a mainstay in Washington beginning with the 2014-2015 season. If Ribeiro leaves Washington via free agency, Kuznetsov is more than capable of filling in as a second line center and key power play cog.
6. Brooks Laich
Laich is a fan favorite in Washington, playing a third line checking role along with his scoring ability. He’ll be a Capitals for the years to come.
7. Troy Brouwer
Brouwer signed a three year contract extension this season and will provide stability at the wing position on Washington’s second line.
8. Jason Chimera
Chimera brings a tough presence to Washington’s lineup, something the Capitals are definitely in need of.
9. Mathieu Perreault
Perreault is a highly skilled winger for his size, and should fill in nicely on Washington’s third line.
10. Marcus Johansson
Johansson provides versatility on Washington’s forward lines, and can even play a top six role at times.
11. Joel Ward
Ward had a disappointing first year with the Capitals, but looks to have a strong rebound campaign which earned him his free agent contract.
12. Matt Hendricks
Hendricks is undeniably Washington’s enforcer, a solid fourth line forward who can be also be used in shootouts.
13. Jay Beagle
Beagle is a hardworking grinder who is a key part of Washington’s penalty killing. He should hold down a starting role on the Capitals fourth line.
14. Joey Crabb
Washington signed Crabb to a one year deal to fill a void on the penalty kill and fourth line. He’ll likely only spend one year with the Capitals if he has a solid season, earning him a more lucrative deal.
15. Wojtek Wolski
Wolski looks to regain his career with Washington, on a one year deal. He could easily become a top six forward for the Capitals, along with his time on the power play.
16. Ryan Stoa
Stoa currently plays for the Hershey Bears, but could be called up to Washington due to multiple injuries in the Capitals’ linuep.
1. Mike Green
Washington signed Green to a three year contract extension this offseason, hoping he can return to past form on the Capitals’ blue line.
2. John Carlson
Carlson is one of the most offensively skilled young defensemen in the entire NHL, and is now a cornerstone on Washington’s blue line for the long term.
3. Karl Alzner
Alzner brings a solid defensive presence to compliment Washington’s offensively minded defensemen, along with strong skills on the penalty kill.
4. Dmitry Orlov
Orlov will likely join the Capitals when the lockout ends, bringing a solid two way game.
5. Roman Hamrlik
Hamrlik is likely with the Capitals for one more year, due to the likelihood of a smaller salary cap in the new CBA and the influx of youth on Washington’s blue line.
6. Jeff Schultz
Schultz should be able to fill in on Washington’s third defensive pairing, before Capitals’ management decides to go with a younger, cheaper option down the road.
7. Cameron Schilling
Schilling has been compared to Alzner, but he can provide more offense. He could make Washington’s opening night roster when the lockout ends.
8. John Erskine
Erskine, like Hillen, brings a defensive presence, and will drop the gloves to help a teammate.
9. Kevin Marshall
Marshall has experience in the NHL for the Philadelphia Flyers, and could help out on the penalty kill if he gets called up to Washington.
10. Jack Hillen
Hillen brings veteran leadership to Washington’s blue line, but is strictly a depth defenseman.
1. Braden Holtby
Holtby has great instincts in net along with the ability to play the puck, and will likely become Washington’s starting goalie. Being coached by Adam Oates at the AHL level certainly won’t hurt his chances to become the starting goalie.
2. Michal Neuvirth
Neuvirth will share time in net with Holtby when the lockout ends, but could become a valuable trade piece if Holtby secures the starting goalie spot.
The next part of the three part 2013 Washington Capitals player rankings will include players on the cusp of the NHL, followed by long term Capitals’ prospect projects.