The Washington Capitals Have Too Many of the Same Player

There Are Too Many Clones in the Washington Capitals Lineup – More Unique Players Are Needed

The Washington Capitals are a team that is still trying to find their way in 2014-15.  While the organization has received a revamp in the past few months, the process is still continuing.

The Capitals are playing with more structure today and they are not skating around the ice like there is a fire drill.  Overall, the Capitals have a solid team (on paper).  But why has it not been showing success on the ice?  What seems to be the problem with the Capitals roster?

After a thorough analysis, I have concluded that the Washington Capitals have too many of the same player.  There are many players on the Capitals roster that mirror each other.  There is little difference between multiple players that are on the Washington Capitals.

Capitals Clones

Capitals forward Eric Fehr (Tom Turk/THW)
Capitals forward Eric Fehr (Tom Turk/THW)

Group A: Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward

How are these players the same?

All of these players in group A are all good skaters (when healthy).  Chimera and Fehr probably have the most speed of the group.  Ward has the most accurate shooting and has the most grit and net presence of the group.

How are these players different?

If Chimera switched jerseys with Fehr in the middle of a game, would you be able to tell the difference?  They both have big bodies with good skating ability and similar shots, so where is the difference?  They do not play physical.  They do not crash the net.  They do not have the best puck control.  Are there any major differences between these players?  The slight edge goes to Ward for having a better net presence and more complete game in this group.

Brooks Laich (Tom Turk/The Hockey Writers)
Brooks Laich (Tom Turk/The Hockey Writers)

Group B: Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer

How are these players the same?

Here are two top six (nine) players who are expected to produce at least 20 goals for the Capitals every season.  They can both play centre, but are better suited for the wing.  Their skating and shooting ability is about the same, while Laich gets a slight advantage with overall puck skills.

How are these players different?

With similar shooting and skating ability, how do Laich and Brouwer differ?  Brouwer has more of a physical edge to his game than Laich.  However, Laich has better finish to his game.  Laich has better playmaking ability, but does not have the same toughness that Brouwer has.  If Laich and Brouwer switched jerseys during the game, would you be able to tell the difference?  Are there any major differences between these two players?

Andre Burakovsky Capitals
Andre Burakovsky sure has been making some waves this season, and fantasy managers are already starting to get acquainted with the forward. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Group C: Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson

How are these players the same?

These two Swedes have the ability to generate their own offense.  Burakovsky and Johansson are both quick skaters with good finish to their game.  They are both strong on the puck and can fire good long range shots.  They are two players who can play centre, but are better suited for the wing.

How are these players different?

With good skating and shooting ability and finish, how are Burakovsky and Johansson different?  I would give a slight shot release advantage to Burakovsky.  I would say that Johansson has a slight advantage in net presence.  They both do not play physical.  They both do not fight or get involved in any scrums.  If Burakovsky and Johansson switched jerseys during a game, would you be able to tell the difference?  Are there any major differences between these two players?

Similarity Surplus

Through my “scouting” eyes, I see a lot of similarities between the different groups of Capitals players and not enough significant differences.  A quality NHL club has many players who bring something different to the table.  A quality NHL club does not have clones up and down the lineup.

No, not everyone is named Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom and can bring a unique game to the table.  Besides Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Tom Wilson, how many other Capitals players bring a unique game to the rink?

With the current crop of Capitals, I see a surplus of burly wingers and no burly centres.  Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward, Brooks Laich, and Troy Brouwer are all very close in similarity and what they bring to the rink.  If they all wore the same nameplate and number, could most of the fans tell them apart?  Could their games be differentiated and identified differently?

Fixing the Similarity Surplus

The Washington Capitals do not need five or six clones in the lineup.  They need more difference and uniqueness in their players.  For example, imagine a Washington Capitals roster that featured a Pavel Datsyuk (DET), Patrice Bergeron (BOS), Jeff Carter (LA), or Jake Voracek (PHI).

All of the above mentioned players bring something unique to their respective clubs.  They bring something that their clubs do not have anywhere else in the lineup.  Some of those players are stars, some of them are not star players.

The Capitals have too many similar role players that mirror each other with their games.  I am not saying that players like Troy Brouwer or Brooks Laich are bad players, but I am saying that a club will not have a lot of success if they have too many of the same player.

The depth of the Capitals is a carbon copy of each other.  The secondary players play too much alike and have very similar skill sets.  The Capitals could use one or two more impact players who bring something different to their lineup.

Thanks for tuning in!