Winners of nine division titles over the past 12 seasons — plus the 2018 Stanley Cup championship – the Washington Capitals merely fine-tuned their roster in order to make a Cup run in 2020.
Everyone knows that offensive production from the bottom six forwards was weak, so Capitals Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian MacLellan took this summer’s free agency period to dump most f them and bring in a bunch of talented youngsters – almost all from losing clubs, which make them hungry – to learn from the veterans then infuse some new life up front.
Many signed for a touch less money they would’ve received elsewhere, but in this way, they know they will contend for a Cup while the returning veterans may also receive a nice raise to keep the front line intact.
Still, until the new kids on the Capitol footsteps prove themselves, Futures Odds on the Capitals slipped from 12-1 to 15-1 at various sportsbooks, including DraftKings Sportsbook.
Among the UFA’s (unrestricted free agents) signed were a trio of bottom six forwards: winger Richard Panik, a lefty from Slovakia who was a featured skater on the potent Arizona Coyotes power play; right-wing Garnet Hathaway from Calgary; and d left wing Brendan Leipsic, who played last season for Los Angeles and Vancouver.
Oddly, Panik will be the third player drafted by Tampa Bay to sport a Caps’ sweater in the last few seasons. So either the Lightning really knows how to draft — the Bolts were President’s Cup Trophy winners last season despite losing a ton of young talent — or Tampa thinks the same about the Caps.
Hathaway is a non-drafted who helped Calgary win the Pacific Division last season, known for his forechecking ability.
Leipsic was a third-round draft choice (89th overall) of the Nashville Predators but is always a throw-in to balance trades. Everyone loves him, yet no one keeps him. His low salary aids with salary cap issues.
In addition, the Caps re-signed goaltender Vitek Vanecek to a three-year, $2.15 million contract to back incumbent Braden Holtby.