After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2020-21 regular season, which is targeted to start Jan. 1. Today, the Washington Capitals:
The Washington Capitals added an accomplished goalie and a championship-winning coach in an attempt to make a run at another Stanley Cup title this season.
Henrik Lundqvist, who had his contract bought out by the New York Rangers on Sept. 30, signed a one-year contract with Washington on Oct. 9, the same day Braden Holtby signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks. The 38-year-old will split time in goal with Ilya Samsonov, who was 16-6-2 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .913 save percentage as a rookie last season.
“At this point in my career, I want to have a chance to win,” Lundqvist said. “I have to say the Capitals checked every box: a team that understands winning, a great coaching staff and an opportunity to play some games. Those were the main factors for me.”
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Peter Laviolette was hired as coach Sept. 15 after spending the previous six seasons with the Nashville Predators. He replaced Todd Reirden, who was fired Aug. 23 after the Capitals were eliminated in the Eastern Conference First Round for the second straight season after winning the Cup in 2018.
Laviolette won the Cup in his second season with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, and he reached the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and in his third season with the Predators in 2017.
“I’m sure they want to get back,” Laviolette said. “It’s just the nature of the beast of competitive athletes. They want to get back. The fact that they’re a veteran group, I’m hoping that we’re going to work together and that I can push in any way that I can so that we can get back to a level that can get us deep into the playoffs.”
Here is what the Capitals look like today:
Henrik Lundqvist, G: He was 10-12-3 with a 3.16 GAA, a .905 save percentage and one shutout in 30 games (26 starts) last season. In 15 NHL seasons, Lundqvist is 459-310-96 with a 2.43 GAA, a .918 save percentage and 64 shutouts in 887 games. … Justin Schultz, D: The 30-year-old, who signed a two-year contract Oct. 9, scored 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 46 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. … Trevor van Riemsdyk, D: The 29-year-old, who signed a one-year contract Oct. 10, scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 49 games for Carolina last season. … Paul LaDue, D: The 28-year-old had one assist in two NHL games for the Los Angeles Kings last season and 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 48 games for Ontario of the American Hockey League. LaDue signed a one-year contract Oct. 10. … Peter Laviolette, coach: The 55-year-old was 248-143-60 with Nashville, including 19-15-7 in 41 games last season before being fired Jan. 6.
Braden Holtby, G: Was 25-14-6 with a 3.11 GAA and .897 save percentage in 48 games (47 starts) last season. In 10 seasons with Washington, Holtby was 282-122-46 with a 2.53 GAA, a .916 save percentage and 35 shutouts in 468 games. … Radko Gudas, D: Signed a three-year contract with the Florida Panthers on Oct. 9. He scored 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) and led Capitals defensemen with 164 hits in 63 games last season. … Ilya Kovalchuk, F: Remains an unrestricted free agent. He scored four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games for the Capitals after being acquired in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 23. … Travis Boyd, F: Signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 10 after he scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 24 games last season. … Todd Reirden, coach: Was 89-46-16 in two seasons as Capitals coach, winning the Metropolitan Division each season. He was hired as an assistant by the Penguins on Sept. 2.
On the cusp
Martin Fehervary, D: The 21-year-old had one assist in six regular-season games and no points in two postseason games for Washington last season. Fehervary scored 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 56 games for Hershey of the American Hockey League. … Connor McMichael, F: The 19-year-old, selected in the first round (No. 25) of the 2019 NHL Draft, scored 102 points (47 goals, 55 assists) in 52 games for London of the Ontario Hockey League last season. McMichael also helped Canada finish first at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship with seven points (five goals, two assists) in seven games. … Vitek Vanecek, G: The Capitals believe Vanecek will be an elite NHL goalie, but he sits behind Samsonov and Lundqvist on their depth chart. The 24-year-old was 19-10-1 with a 2.26 GAA, a .917 save percentage and two shutouts in 31 games for Hershey last season.
What they still need
A wing to provide scoring depth on the third line. Washington signed Richard Panik for that role last offseason, but he scored 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 59 games and was relegated to the fourth line after the trade for Kovalchuk.
Lundqvist brings late-round appeal in a backup role to Samsonov. Last season, Lundqvist had the fewest wins (10) and lowest save percentage (.905) in his NHL career, but he should have a higher workload and win total this season with the Capitals, who have a better defense than the Rangers and are one of the safest teams in fantasy because of a loaded offense. Lundqvist could be drafted as a handcuff to Samsonov or as a No. 3 or 4 goalie option in standard 12-team leagues. — Rob Reese
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin — Lars Eller — Richard Panik
Daniel Sprong — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Brenden Dillon — John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov — Justin Schultz
Jonas Siegenthaler — Nick Jensen