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Grading Every Capital this Year

23 mai à 14 h 31
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Nic Dowd Enjoyer
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I've been sitting on this idea for a while, but now that we have some decent perspective on the season, I think it is time to go through everyone this year. I may refer back to my Mid Season Report Cards , so I've linked them if you didn't see them.

Forwards:

Alex Ovechkin: A

What Ovi has done this year has been yet another great accomplishment. Nearing 2nd All Time in goals with no signs of stopping at his age is incredible. He also improved his defense this year, including some great bailouts on plays where the defense failed. The shoulder injury we learned about is a bit of a worry but didn't come as a shock to me. Hopefully he'll be back at full strength next year.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: A

Kuzy bucked the trade rumors from last year with fury, and had a return to his great 2018 form with his best points scoring season since the aforementioned 2018 season. He also improved his defensive capabilities, and has made himself into a genuine option to replace Eller on the penalty kill. Again, no complaints.

Tom Wilson: A

Wilson came to play this year and showed why the Capitals consistently put him on the first line. Career highs in Goals, Assists, and Points, as well as his first All Star Game appearance, helped cement his role in the top 6 (despite the incessant Wilson for Nylander mock trades). Another force on the penalty kill and someone who stayed out of the public eye for much of the season.

Anthony Mantha: A-

The first of 2 roster regulars not to receive a grade in the Mid Season version, Mantha showed up big time when he returned to play for Washington. While he struggled to finish on some of his chances, the big man brought a great physical presence both in the regular season and the playoffs, and helped generate plenty of good chances. One of the most consistent playoff performers this year, the only reason he doesn't get an A is due to his slow start to the season prior to his injury. Overall though, nothing to be ashamed of.

Nicklas Backstrom: B-

Man, this one sucks to do. The second of two not to receive a mid season grade wasn't as bad as some may have thought this season. He put up decent points, notching 6 goals and 25 assists over 47 games, but he struggled at times defensively and didn't look like himself at times during the year. We now know that he has a serious nagging hip injury that may jeopardize his entire career, which is heartbreaking to see for a player who means so much to this team. I won't bag on him given his injury, and I can only hope he gets better soon.

Conor Sheary: A

Sheary had a strong season this year, recording his best point totals since 2016-17 with Pittsburgh, and was a guy who could play anywhere in the lineup. His presence on the ice was much appreciated, and I struggle to find many poor areas of his game.

Marcus Johansson: C-

I was ready to give him an F before the playoffs rolled around, but the return of MoJo started to look better as we entered playoff hockey. He started to look like himself near the end of the year, and was surprisingly fairly consistent in the playoffs. However, this can't fully overlook the horrid post deadline he had, where he struggled to get on the scoresheet. While I'm not sure Sprong would have been much better, it's still not a good year for MoJo.

TJ Oshie: B+

Can he please stop getting hurt? Injuries were the story of the year with Oshie, who had one of the worst PPG paces in his career, but I give him some leeway as he was playing through injuries and bounced around on different lines. His return to the PP jump started the unit and he was a goal per game in the playoffs, leaving him with a decent grade despite the surface numbers not being the greatest.

Lars Eller: D+

Lars was a mess this year. While he put up alright point totals on a line with a revolving door of wingers, Eller struggled with taking stupid and unnecessary penalties, as well as being a step down in defense. He was great on the PK and I expect a bounce-back with his defense, it won't be in DC.

Johan Larsson: A

Larsson was an absolutely immaculate acquisition for the Caps, and he elevated the 4th line to heights we haven't seen in years. Larsson was arguably the best Capitals forward defensively, and the points followed. While he may price himself out of Washington, he's someone that the Caps could certainly consider bringing back.

Nic Dowd: A

Another strong season from Nic, as he was one of the most consistent players throughout the year and part of only 2 line combos Washington would consistently count on. Dowd registered a career high points season, and was just as good defensively as ever.

Garnet Hathaway: A

Again, another good season from the 4th line. Garny was great again this year, notching career highs in Goals, Points, and Time On Ice, and his section could honestly be a copy and paste from Dowd's section. Nothing to complain about from either of them.

Connor McMichael: B

This one may be a bit controversial, but here goes. McMichael wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, especially considering his lack of ice time. However, there were plenty of moments where we remembered that McMichael is definitely still a rookie. His defense was a struggle through parts of the year, but overall a decent season with plenty of room to grow.

Carl Hagelin: C-

Man, his injury both came at an amazing and terrible time for Washington. While Larsson proved to be a more than worthy replacement, Hagelin had just started to turn it around from his awful start to the year. I'm going to give him a break as he looked like he was coming back to form near the end of his year. With his current injury, I just hope he's able to regain his depth perception and play NHL hockey again.

Extra Forwards (Protas, Leason, Jonsson-Fjallby, Lapierre, Snively): B+

The rookies showed off why they should be pushing for roster spots next year, making life harder (in a good way) for Brian MacLellan. All of them had their struggles, but different successes like Joe Snively's emergence as a goal scorer, Aliaksei Protas' consistent play, and Jonsson-Fjallby's great impersonation of a young Carl Hagelin.

Defensemen:

John Carlson: D

This is generous. While I can't take away his 71 point season, his play in his own zone and his turnovers showed how absolutely terrible he truely played this season, and there was no better example than Game 6 against Florida. That game was a microcosm of his porous defensive play this year, with constantly losing players behind him, activating and never getting back, and quitting on plays when he had a chance to make a difference. I could go on, but I won't beat a dead horse on this.

Martin Fehervary: B

Marty was one of a few players that drop from their Mid-Season grades, but that wasn't necessarily all because of him. Fehervary struggled later in the year with getting in the correct position, but some of this was definitely due to Carlson putting Fehervary in horrid positions. He should get a chance to improve next year and hopefully he gets a better defensive partner like Jensen to let him mature. A sign of promise would be leading all NHL rookie defensemen in goals.

Dimitry Orlov: A

Orlov was part of the only rock solid defensive pairing this year. He was great in the defensive zone, and was also a good play facilitator throughout the year. He'll want to recreate this season next year when his contract expires, but I have no issues with his play this year.

Nick Jensen: A

Jensen finally showcased why Washington traded Bowey and the 2nd rounder (which became Cross Hanas) for him. Jensen was the second half of Washington's best defensive pairing, and he showed that with career highs in Goals, Assists, and Points. He was slightly worse in the defensive zone when compared to Orlov, but still was a solid defenseman in every zone. Most certainly worth the 2.5 million Washington will pay him next season.

Trevor Van Riemsdyk: B

TvR showed some good play, even with being forced out of position and saddled with a defensive nightmare like Justin Schultz (more on that later). TvR was able to play quite well on the PK when given the chance, and his normal defensive play was a nice showing after a slightly puzzling contract extension last year.

Justin Schultz: F

Oh boy. The performance this season would revile most players, coaches, general managers, and fans alike. Schultz's performance was if Carlson had lost the ability to put up points. I was more lenient on him in the mid-season report, but that leniency is gone. He was god awful in his own zone and even with getting PP1 time, he struggled to score points while still being a black hole defensively. He wil almost certainly be gone at the end of the year, and many fans may throw a fit if he stays.

Michal Kempny: F

Pretty much the same thing as Schultz. Kempny was horrid in the defensive zone, with many lapses in coverage and poor turnovers. I will give him a little leeway due to his long recovery from injury, but he's another player that Washington will let go. I'll appreciate his time and help that led the Caps to a cup, but it is his time to go.

Extra Defensemen (Irwin, Johansen, Alexeyev): A

The fact that Irwin was not put into more games was pretty infuriating. He was a far better defenseman than Schultz for the year, yet he only received sporadic appearances. Same can be said for Alexeyev and Johansen, but none of the 3 listed had many issues. I was pleased by all 3 of them.

Goaltenders:

Ilya Samsonov: B

This one is the most controversial one. I've been a big defender of Samsonov, and it was clear when watching that he and Vanecek were far better than what stats said. Defensive lapses hurt both of them, but it hurt Samsonov much more and in much more important situations. Samsonov also had a lack of confidence, something that he finally gained and helped his play in Game 3, when the crowd chanted Samsonov's name and his interview showed a huge change in confidence. His performance this playoffs helped to show how much he can help Washington.

Vitek Vanecek: B-

VV was slightly worse this year, but was mired with similar issues as Samsonov. I don't have much to say that wouldn't be repeating Samsonov's section, but VV did let up slightly more soft goals. Both could benefit from a change in goaltending coach, and hopefully the Caps realize this and bring back Mitch Korn.

Extra Goalies (Fucale, Copley): B+

This wasn't a bad year by any stretch of the imagination for the AHL boys. Fucale had a great start to his NHL career, but a poor game against Boston knocked his play evaluation down a peg. Copley wasn't anything special either, but wasn't poor and was solid enough.

Coaching: B

I wasn't a huge anti-Lavy guy, and the coaching as a whole wasn't the worst thing in the world, but the Power Play coaching was absolutely horrible under Blaine Forsythe, and some choices to stay with ineffective lines for too long cuts down on an otherwise decent season.

General Manager: B-

This could have been so much worse earlier this year. At the time of the deadline, some had MacLellan as the biggest loser. However, the Johansson and Larsson trades showed that it was paying off when the playoffs rolled around. The choice not to deal either goalie also turned out to be a decent move, and although the management missed out on some good opportunities, earlier trades such as the Jensen and Mantha deals helped to balance out their grade.

Jesus, that was a lot. If you made it to the end, thanks for reading, and let me know your opinions on the matter below.
oilersguy, SevenLeg, Bobcat205 and 3 others a aimé ceci.
 
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