The rumours of Alex Ovechkin's demise may have been premature. Even when he started the season slowly, he was still a top 50 player by week 3, the top 10 by week 10. Being nominated for the Hart may have been a stretch, but 56 PTS in 48 GP is a solid season, 32 goals being very respectable. The downside is that Alex the Great only managed 2 points in the playoffs. The most pleasant surprise for the Caps had to be Troy Brouwer, a power forward who chipped in 33 PTS in 47 GP. Troy equalled his point total of 2012, except that he played 82 games last year, producing points at the highest rate of his career. At 27 years old, he's a prime asset with a Stanley Cup ring.
Signing Braden Holtby to a 2 year extension at $1.9M was a great contract. Holty started the season slowly out of the gate, but as he turned his game around, the Caps started winning hockey games. Michal Neuvirth will be back as a competent back-up, but the Caps need Holtby to be an elite goaltender for a whole season to succeed next year. His 2.58 GAA and .920 SvPct puts him among the 10 best goalies in the league, we'll just have to see if he can maintain that level of play. The interesting thing is that Neuvirth gets paid $2.5M per year, about 600K more than Holtby, when Braden is clearly the starter and the goalie of the future.
Preseason Rank: 11
Midseason Rank: 27
Final Rank: 8
GM Grade: C
1st Star: Alex Ovechkin
2nd Star: Mike Ribeiro
3rd Star: Nick Backstrom
UFAs: Mike Ribeiro, Matt Hendricks, Wojtek Wolski, Tom Poti, Joey Crabb
RFAs: Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner
Best Contract: John Carlson 5 more years at $3.9M
Worst Contract: Mike Green 2 more years at $6.1M
What I said about them in preseason: I can't logically explain why, but it feels like Adam Oates is made of magic. Like Dale Hunter was Julius Caesar, and Adam Oates is Merlin. Call it a hunch. I think this is a very good team that will score a lot of goals.
This roster is not built to rebuild. The Caps have to double down on what they have, which you can bet they will do. There aren't many big names to re-sign, except Mike Ribeiro, who seems likely to test the free agent market. GM George McPhee might have made the worst trade of the season at the deadline, when he shipped blue chip prospect Fillip Forsberg for Martin Erat (who had no points in the playoffs). Erat was not a rental, with 2 years at $4.5M left on his contract, but it's still a lot to give up for a mediocre forward.