Washington Capitals Post Free Agent Frenzy Forward Breakdown

After making a big trade, and notable signing the first two days of free agency, the Washington Capitals find themselves pretty much set when it comes to their NHL roster. But still some questions arise when you breakdown the makeup of the roster. Here is a breakdown of the current forwards and how the depth chart may shape up.

Capitals Post Free Agency Roster Breakdown: Forwards

Top Six

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Justin Williams

Five of the six spots on the top two lines are set in stone, the only two questions will be 1) who is the last member, and 2) what combination will they end up using.

Kuznetsov and Ovechkin played together some in the playoffs, do they try it again? Where and who do Oshie and Williams fit in with?

Tweeners

Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson

Johnansson has the longer track record, and could have first shot at rounding out the top six. Burakovsky has arguably the greater upside, and actually had his moments as a 19 year old rookie. Which do the Caps go with? One thing they should attempt to avoid is rotating them out like they did with Burakovsky and Kuznetsov at center last year.

Bottom Six

Jay Beagle, Jason Chimera, Tom Wilson, Brooks Laich

This is where it could get interesting as the player who doesn’t get plugged into the top six between Johansson and Burakovsky will end up having to find a role on either of the two bottom line.

The wildcard in the group will be the 32 year old Laich, who carries with him a cap hit almost as hefty as his injury report. Out of a potential 212 games, Laich has only played in 126 the past three seasons.

At $4.5 million per year, his contract will be hard to move but they may be forced to give it their all to do so to create wiggle room once they sign Johansson and Braden Holtby ink their respective deals.

Wilson will look to turn himself into a third line power forward after spending the beginning of his career as a fourth line enforcer, but struggled in his early attempts last year.

Depth Fillers

Michael Latta, Stanislav Galiev, Anyone under contract in Hershey.

Latta is the lone piee left from a horrible trade that saw Filip Forsberg shipped out of D.C. for Martin Erat as the centerpiece. Depending what is done with Laich will determine if Latta will be the team’s fourth line center or switch over to the wing.

Originally thought to be a Matt Hendricks clone, the grit Latta brings could be equally matched by Galiev’s secondary scoring touch.

After scoring 25 goals in Hershey, Galiev made his NHL debut, played in two games and netted his first marker at that level.

Other players that could find themselves at the NHL level (with their AHL stats from a year ago)

Garrett Mitchell, 64 GP 4 G 4 A 121 PIM

Chandler Stephenson, 54 GP 7 G, 7 A

Liam O’Brien, 45 GP 4 G 4 A 121 PIM

Nathan Walker, 28 GP 1 G, 3 A 30 PIM

Jakub Vrana, 3 GP 0 G, 5 A – Playoffs, 10 GP 2 G 4 A

When it comes to the top six, Washington may have one of the best in the entire league and the additions of Oshie and Williams forced others down the depth chart into the bottom part of the lineup, adding to the team’s overall depth.

Vrana and Riley Barber would probably be better options than Galiev – especially long-term – but they are better suited starting the year in Hershey.

After finishing one game short of the Conference Finals, the Capitals have maybe done the most to improve among the final four teams out of the East which should put them in the thick of things once again this year.

 

Main Photo:
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 06: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals in action against the Winnipeg Jets during an NHL game at the Verizon Center on February 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Washington Capitals won, 4-2. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)


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