It’s doom and gloom around the Washington Capitals these days. The team is a disappointing 5th place in the Eastern Conference and their franchise player, Alex Ovechkin, is on pace to score just 80 points this season… his lowest point total ever!
As if that wasn’t enough, various hockey pundits have claimed the Capitals Stanley Cup window is closing and closing fast during this season of horrors.
It goes deeper too. Some observers believe the Capitals must go all-in this season or their shot at Lord Stanley will be gone for years.
I realize not everyone feels this way, but frankly it’s ridiculous anyone could.
As it stands, Washington isn’t built to win the Stanley Cup with today’s roster. Sorry, it’s just not happening.
That’s not a shot at the team. They have their top line in place – albeit a struggling top line – and some very good pieces on defense, but they don’t have a solid second line center (or second line for that matter) or proven goaltending.
Thing is, all that good stuff is coming. That’s the beauty of building contending sports teams; it’s about patience, following the plan and patience. Did I mention patience? It’s clear GM George McPhee is following a pretty good blueprint with a number of key pieces still a few years away from the big club. Consider that Ovechkin, along with the rest of the Caps nucleus Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine, Karl Alzner, John Carlson and others aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Also consider that most of those players, perhaps all of them, have yet to hit their primes.
Add in some developing players with great potential including Marcus Johansen (a potential solid two-way, second line center) and 2011 World Junior Championship stars Evgeny Kuznetsov (a very talented winger) and Cody Eakin. (another strong depth center). I didn’t even mention netminders Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth, two goalies who are developing nicely for the Capitals.
This doesn’t mean the Capitals can’t or won’t go on a great run this season or next. In fact that would only help them in the long term. If you ask me, the Capitals window doesn’t truly open for a few more years. Everything that’s happening with the Capitals is part of the plan. The Capitals are learning and still very young. It’s not like McPhee set out to execute a short sighted strategy that wraps up with an all-or-nothing conclusion in just three or four years. Again, patience is the key to the growth of the team and its individuals. Would the Capitals like to be playing better and winning more? Sure, but the Caps are still among the top 10 teams in the league. It’s not all doom and gloom as I poked fun at earlier.
For any fans or naysayers claiming otherwise, this is a team poised to be contenders for years to come. This is a team that hasn’t come close to its potential and development yet.
This is a team who’s window hasn’t fully opened, much less begun closing.