Where do the Capitals go from here?

Currently, I am in two positions I thought I’d never be: stuck in an Ireland airport having to stay the night due to flight cancellations and talking about the Washington Capitals ONCE AGAIN losing in the second round.

Now I’d like to give my fellow hockey blogger Hayner the shout out for comparing me to Jimmy Fallon in Fever Pitch when it comes to rooting for the caps. I’ll fully accept this comparison since my only hopes are that I’ll cuff my own version of a Drew Barrymore, hopefully not nearly as annoying, and the caps will finally figure it out and win a championship for the first time in their 43-year history.

In all seriousness, we have to talk about where the hell caps go from here. After almost three weeks of reflecting on this caps season and what the future holds, I think I’m mentally prepared to write this post.

This year’s Capitals had without a doubt the best, most complete team in the NHL, but they still weren’t able to advance to the ever elusive Eastern Conference Finals that has defined the Alexander Ovechkin era.

After another postseason failure from the caps, the amount of hot takes surrounding the Caps has been unbearable, and some even suggest that trading Alexander Ovechkin is the answer. Let me remind you that these takes are from people who actually get paid to cover hockey for a living.

Now as silly as you’d have to be to think that trading Ovi in the salary cap era would do anything to solve any of the problems with the Capitals, let’s realistically look at what the next best move for the caps would be.

Even though it might sound ridiculous considering the circumstances, the best thing for the Capitals to do is to reload and go for the cup once again in 2018.

A lot of my fellow members of caps nation are calling for a full on rebuild, but this is not the answer. There is too much talent expected to be on the roster next year to think that this team can’t make another run at hockey’s ultimate prize. I mean look at what the Ottawa Senators were able to do with the team they had this season.

A team with Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Holtby, Orlov and others is simply too good to blow up, so the only good option here is to run the table again for 2018. As I’m writing this post, it has come to my attention that a reported Oshie re-signing is all but done according John Shannon of Sportsnet, which just further enforces my point.

If the caps are able to bring back all their restricted free agents, re-sign Oshie and protect Nate Schmidt from the absolutely ridiculous expansion draft, there is no reason to believe that this team is not a legit cup contender for 2018.

The Capitals will also be losing some extreme liabilities on the back end as Karl Alzner is expected to sign with another team through free agency, and the re-signing of Oshie greatly hints at a potential buyout of Brooks Orpik. Despite the veteran leadership these guys bring, their slow skating abilities hurt the Caps, so replacing them with the younger, faster defensive prospects in the caps’ system like Christian Djoos should excite Capitals fans a lot. The trend in today’s NHL is quick, puck-moving defensemen who are able to transition from defense to offense with ease, so the more of these types of players on the caps’ roster the better.

All this paired with the expectations of Jakub Vrana and Riley Barber potentially cracking the lineup next season means that there is still hope – how distant of a concept that has become for caps fans over the years.

Trust me, I’m just as angry as the next caps fan as this year’s second round game 7 loss might have been the hardest one to deal with (ZERO GOALS ARE YOU SERIOUS???), but the wrong response here is to panic.

We have a good team and yeah it hasn’t been working for the last 10 years, but I truly think something has to give. I know having faith in this team is hard as they keep finding new ways to break hearts every year, but we gotta maintain hope. We have a bunch of talented, superstar players paired with a good defensive core and backstopped by a top 3 goalie in the NHL. Who’s to say we can’t get a couple of the lucky bounces that have gone against us over the years and potentially make it over the hump once and for all? I have to think the hockey gods are out there somewhere, and if they are, we are due for some repayments. Even though I really hate my favorite hockey team right now, join me in what might be the hardest thing to do at the moment and not abandon your faith in the Caps just yet. If there is anything I’ve learned from the Philly sports fanatic Andrew Hayn, it’s that we have to trust the process. Go caps.

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