After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2022-23 regular season, which starts Oct. 7. Today, the Washington Capitals:
2021-22 season: 44-26-12, fourth in Metropolitan Division; lost in first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs
Darcy Kuemper, G: After winning the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche last season, the 32-year-old signed a five-year contract July 13 to be the Capitals’ No. 1 goalie. Kuemper tied for fourth in the NHL in wins (37-12-4) and shutouts (five), was fifth in save percentage (.921) and 11th in goals-against average (2.54) in 57 regular-season games (all starts) last season. He was 10-4 with a 2.57 GAA, .902 save percentage and one shutout in 16 playoff games (all starts). … Dylan Strome, F: The 25-year-old signed a one-year-contract July 14 to help fill in for center Nicklas Backstrom, who is recovering from resurfacing surgery on his left hip. Strome had 48 points (NHL career-high 22 goals, 26 assists) in 69 regular-season games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season. … Connor Brown, F: The 28-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on July 13 for a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. Brown, who had 39 points (10 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games with the Senators last season, is expected to help fill in for Tom Wilson while the forward is recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. … Charlie Lindgren, G: The 28-year-old signed a three-year contract July 13 to be Kuemper’s backup. Lindgren was 5-0-0 with 1.22 GAA and .958 save percentage in five regular-season games (four starts) with the St. Louis Blues last season and 24-7-1 with a 2.21 GAA, .925 save percentage and three shutouts in 34 regular-season games with Springfield of the American Hockey League. … Erik Gustafsson, D: The 30-year-old signed a one-year contract July 13. Gustafsson had 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) in 59 games with the Blackhawks last season.
Ilya Samsonov, G: The Capitals decided not to make Samsonov a qualifying offer to retain his restricted free agent rights, and he signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 13. Samsonov was 23-12-5 with a 3.02 GAA, .896 save percentage and three shutouts in 44 regular-season games (39 starts) and 1-3 with a 2.97 GAA and .912 save percentage in five playoff games (four starts) last season. … Vitek Vanecek, G: He was traded with a second-round pick (No. 46) in the 2022 NHL Draft to the New Jersey Devils on July 8 for a second-round pick (No. 37) and a third-round pick (No. 70) in the 2022 draft. Vanecek, a restricted free agent who signed a three-year contact with the Devils on July 19, was 20-12-6 with a 2.67 GAA, .908 save percentage and four shutouts in 42 regular-season games (39 starts) and 1-1 with a 4.21 GAA and .863 save percentage in two playoff games (two starts) last season. … Justin Schultz, D: He signed a two-year contract with the Seattle Kraken on July 13. Schultz had 23 points (four goals, 19 assists) in 74 regular-season games and three points (one goal, two assists) in six playoff games last season. … Michal Kempny, D: He signed a one-year contract with the Kraken on July 25. Kempny, a member of the Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup championship team, had two points (one goal, one assist) in 15 regular-season games last season. … Johan Larsson, F: An unrestricted free agent, Larsson had six points (one goal, five assists) in 14 regular-season games and two assists in six playoff games with Washington after being acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on March 21.
On the cusp
Lucas Johansen, D: The 24-year-old, who was selected with the No. 28 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, reemerged as one of the Capitals’ better prospects last season after being limited by injuries the previous two seasons and is expected to compete for a spot in the third defense pair in training camp. Johansen had 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists) in 62 games with Hershey of the AHL last season and made his NHL debut against the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 31, getting an assist. … Hendrix Lapierre, F: The 20-year-old, who was the No. 22 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, scored one goal in six NHL games at the start of last season before being sent to Acadie-Bathurst of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Lapierre, who had 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists) in 40 games with Acadie-Bathurst, will likely begin this season in Hershey after the Strome signing pushed him down the center depth chart, but could be one of the first call-ups.
What they still need
To get healthy. The additions of Strome and Brown will help bridge the gap, but Wilson isn’t expected to play before December, and it’s unclear when Backstrom will be able to return. Forward Carl Hagelin‘s future is also uncertain because of an eye injury.
They said it
“It was the goal going into free agency that we wanted to change our goaltending, and we accomplished it. I feel good about both guys we’ve gotten, and I look forward to the season with both of them in net.” — general manager Brian MacLellan
With Backstrom expected to be out long term, the Capitals have a few options to fill the second-line void in 25-and-under centers Strome, Connor McMichael and Lapierre. Strome, who played mostly on a line with elite wings Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat for the Blackhawks last season, had their third-most 5-on-5 points per 60 minutes (2.12; minimum 200 games) behind Kane (2.51) and center Jonathan Toews (2.16) and ahead of DeBrincat (2.03) over the four regular seasons since joining them in 2018-19. Strome should be considered a deep fantasy sleeper with a chance to play on the second line with wings T.J. Oshie, Anthony Mantha and/or Brown. — Pete Jensen
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Connor Brown
Anthony Mantha — Dylan Strome — Conor Sheary
Connor McMichael — Lars Eller — T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary — John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson — Trevor van Riemsdyk