Washington Capitals open coaching camp

The Washington Capitals open coaching camp Thursday with a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender between the pipes and a slew of returning veterans in tow. Washington will look to lean on this skilled core and its new netminder to interrupt its disappointing streak of 4 straight opening-round postseason exits.

The Capitals’ championship aspirations will run in parallel with Alex Ovechkin’s pursuit of the NHL’s all-time objectives report. Ovechkin sits in third place with 780, 50 of which got here in a surprisingly sturdy 2021-22 marketing campaign. Needing solely 22 objectives to surpass Gordie Howe for second place, Ovechkin will look to make use of his mixture of power and talent and inch nearer towards Wayne Gretzky’s hallowed report of 894.

Washington will open its six-game preseason slate Sunday afternoon at Capital One Enviornment in opposition to the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres. The Capitals’ season opener, at dwelling in opposition to the Boston Bruins, is Oct. 12.

Listed here are 5 issues to look at as coaching camp unfolds:

How does Darcy Kuemper look in Washington?

Darcy Kuemper, a wage cap casualty of the Colorado Avalanche’s success final season, arrives as Washington seeks to shore up its most irritating and inconsistent place the previous two years. Contemporary off signing a five-year, $26.25 million deal in free company, Kuemper will look to solidify himself as a top-tier NHL goaltender and attempt to shake the notion that he merely benefited from a job on a juggernaut Avalanche squad.

Kuemper’s backup in internet might be Charlie Lindgren, who was signed this offseason as a free agent after spending final yr on a two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues.

What’s the standing of Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson?

Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson, two mainstays of Washington’s lineup, will begin the yr on long-term injured reserve. Backstrom is recovering from offseason hip surgical procedure, and there’s no timetable for his return. There may be nonetheless an opportunity Backstrom doesn’t play in any respect this season, however he seems decided to offer it one other go as an alternative of choosing early retirement.

Capitals title Scott Allen to teaching workers, changing Scott Arniel

Wilson continues to get better from ACL surgical procedure on his left knee in Could. He was injured in final yr’s postseason sequence in opposition to the Florida Panthers. Wilson’s restoration timeline is on observe, with the workforce forecasting a possible common season debut as early as late November.

Will Carl Hagelin be cleared to play?

Carl Hagelin’s eye damage in early March led to 2 surgical procedures and left his NHL future unsure. His progress has been promising, however it’s unclear whether or not he’ll go well with up for Washington this season.

The 34-year-old winger spent the summer season taking part in casual skates and has been carrying a full-contact jersey throughout group classes. Hagelin, nonetheless listed as injured on the official coaching camp roster, stays underneath the care of Washington’s medical workers and has had appointments and consultations with exterior docs.

How will Dylan Strome and Connor Brown combine in with the ahead group?

With Wilson and Backstrom out, Dylan Strome and Connor Brown can have distinguished roles as the one two newcomers up entrance.

Strome, a 25-year-old heart, was a stable addition by Washington on the primary day of free company, signing a one-year, $3.5 million deal. He’s anticipated to be the workforce’s second-line heart, however the Capitals in all probability will attempt him at heart and left wing all through the preseason.

Brown, 28, is a proper winger and will match anyplace within the lineup, most notably on the highest line alongside Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Washington has a number of choices for its top-line proper winger, with Brown, T.J. Oshie and Conor Sheary the more than likely candidates. Brown can be a penalty-killing specialist and can see prolonged time on that unit.

The place does Connor McMichael match (once more)?

A lot of the speak surrounding Washington’s lineup final season revolved across the play of Connor McMichael. In his rookie season, the previous first-round decide contrasted moments of potential with underwhelming stretches. McMichael, 21, performed in 68 video games, a wholesome load for a flexible participant nonetheless discovering his manner.

McMichael crammed in as accidents struck Washington at a staggering tempo and confirmed the teaching workers he generally is a pure match at heart when among the veteran gamers begin to lose their edge.

This yr, nonetheless, there isn’t any clear-cut spot for McMichael within the Capitals’ lineup. Washington has 4 different facilities at its disposal: Kuznetsov, Strome, Lars Eller and Nic Dowd. If Strome will get moved to the wing, McMichael may shift to heart. If Eller doesn’t meet expectations in coaching camp, he may fall out of favor and get replaced by the teen. With Backstrom out for a protracted time frame, Washington has loads of choices to bolster its lineup down the center, however choosing the proper mixture may take some trial and error.

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