2013 Washington Capitals Player Rankings: NHL Ready Players

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.

Forwards:

1. Alex Ovechkin

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.

Nicklas Backstrom Capitals

Nicklas Backstrom (Tom Turk / THW)

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.

Brooks Laich (Tom Turk/THW)

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.

Matt Hendricks Capitals

Matt Hendricks (Tom Turks / THW)

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.

Defensemen:

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.

Mike Green (Photo by Anna Armstrong)

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.

Goalies:

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

Michal Neuvirth Capitals

Michal Neuvirth (Tom Turk / The Hockey Writers)

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.

You can follow Matthew on twitter @m_speck and email him at mspeck21@yahoo.com with any questions or comments.

Matthew Speck

Matthew Speck

Matthew Speck covers the Washington Capitals organization for The Hockey Writers. He's credentialed for Washington's AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, and covers most home games. Matthew also covers high school sports for the Lebanon Daily News. You can email him at mspeck21@yahoo.com with any questions or comments.
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