2019-2020 Washington Capitals Mid-Season Review

Everyone remembers the dreaded days of receiving their report card. It was a combination of emotions of wonder that you have not yet learned your lesson to fear in trying to assess how you can hide the notes from your parents. For Washington Capitals players, the story is a bit different so far this season.

Sitting comfortably among the best teams in the NHL (tied with the St. Louis Blues for first place overall), most players from the Washington squad have excelled on their personal leaderboard. However, there have been a few surprises at both ends of the spectrum, so let’s assess each player individually with a few vital notes and an overall mid-season score.

Alex Ovechkin

47 games played – 28 goals – 16 assists – 44 points
Overall rating: A-

(integrated) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Rnf3MHVfpc (/ integrated)

For Alex “The Great 8” Ovechkin, it was just another walk in the park. Ranking third in the NHL in goals, Ovechkin has always been his usual dominant and is now 11th in all career records (recently surpassing Teemu Selanne). His physique hasn’t waned (16th in the NHL for hits), he’s shooting as much as ever (leading the NHL in shots with 216) and despite the Capitals’ power play struggles recently, he’s third in the league with 10 special team scorers.

Ovechkin is the heart and soul of the Capitals roster and when he leaves, the team usually thrives. This has been the case on numerous occasions, 2019-20 being no exception. The only knocks against Ovechkin are his minus-13 rating and the fact that we didn’t observe his charisma at this year’s All-Star Game.

Evgeny Kuznetsov

44 games played – 16 goals – 26 assists – 42 points
Overall rating: B +

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals 2016 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Evgeny Kuznetzov aka “The Bird Man” was one of Caps’ superstars who has been lacking this season. Washington fans just know that he has other equipment that hasn’t been used as much as it should be. Its production is very similar to that of 2018-2019, but its rate of fire has decreased. He’s on pace for 165 cage shots against over 185 each of the past two seasons. If Washington can revitalize its power play, this should bode well for No. 92 by accelerating its engine. The young Russian has the ability to produce at more than one point clip per game, and the Capitals will need this output to maintain their place on the totem.

Tom wilson

46 games played – 13 goals – 18 assists – 31 points
Overall rating: A

Tom Wilson, Washington Capitals, March. 18, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

What’s not to like about Tom Wilson’s game this season? He was arguably one of the best two-way players in the game in 2019-20. He is fifth in the NHL in hits (156) and penalty minutes (67), but is able to beat his career highs in all offense categories. Washington has been widely criticized for using Wilson on the front line, as well as for giving him a six-year contract. Needless to say, the experience has paid off to this point. Wilson’s physics creates time and space for the offensive juggernauts around him, and his production skyrockets because of it.

Nicklas Backstrom

39 games played – 9 goals – 26 assists – 35 points
Overall rating: B +

Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Pay the man! The freshly signed Nicklas Backstrom will be a bit of a capital. Still one of the most underrated centers in the NHL (sort of), Backstrom played its part in 2019-2020, but nothing more. The Capitals’ power play has been catastrophic lately (falling to 12th in the league) and the team is spreading their scores much more than in the past. These two factors (as well as the increased presence of Lars Eller) have moved away from the typical prominence of Backstrom, but he still wins more than 50% of his draws and plays an essential leadership role.

T.J. Oshie

47 games played – 18 goals – 15 assists – 33 points
Overall rating: B +

T.J. Oshie (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in his career, T.J. Oshie will head to the NHL All-Star Game! Oshie arrives to join his head coach, goalkeeper and star defender during the festivities in Saint-Louis (where he was drafted and played seven seasons). It is very well deserved for the talented two-way winger, as he is third in the team in terms of goals. The only area he needs to see a positive regression is his penalty shootout (90). A 20% shooting percentage should not be maintained as the season progresses.

Jakub Vrana

47 games played – 20 goals – 18 assists – 38 points
Overall rating: A

Jakub Vrana, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)

Do you remember that kid who no one expected incredible marks and then managed to beat the whole class? It’s Jakub Vrana this season. What a campaign he is waging! Vrana is fifth in the NHL with 19 equal strength goals (only one of his goals was scored in the PP) and he is the only player among the first 20 to have an average of under 16:30 minutes of ice for goal leaders (14:51). His 2019-20 totals should wipe out last season’s career highs (24 goals and 47 points), and it’s safe to say that No. 13 has become a staple in the top six for Washington. The sky is the limit of Vrana.

Lars Eller

47 games played – 11 goals – 15 assists – 26 points
Overall rating: B +

Lars Eller, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)

Outstanding value. This is what Lars Eller provides to the Washington advance group. Almost a year ago, the Caps signed Eller with a $ 17.5 million contract over five years ($ 3.5 million per season) and it is one of the best contracts they have concluded from recent memory. The 30-year-old is about to reach career highs in goals and points, has a plus-four odds and is 53.49% in the face-off circle. apply perfectly to the penalty, and he is also able to assist the upper PP unit if a player is absent.

Carl Hagelin

36 games played – 1 goal – 8 assists – 9 points
Overall rating: C-

Carl Hagelin is only one season away from a great 31-point campaign with 169 shots on goal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, it seems that the age of “Hag” is catching up with him (32 this summer) and his playing style is losing its luster. He scored a plus-five, so he’s doing his part on the defensive end of the puck (including PK time), but there must be more than one attacking contribution. It also seems that his confidence is suffering, because he has found the string only once in 58 shots (1.7% of shot).

Garnet Hathaway

44 games played – 6 goals – 6 assists – 12 points
Overall rating: B

Garnet Hathaway, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)

Garnet Hathaway was a fantastic free agent addition to the Capitals after leaving the Calgary Flames. It brings an element of physics and grain which reinforces the depth of Washington in front of Tom Wilson. His 122 hits are 21st in the NHL, and they drag people like Zack Kassian and Milan Lucic. Washington needed to find cheap value during the offseason to solidify its list and it seems they found it, and more, with Hathaway ($ 1.5 million AAV).

Nic Dowd

34 games played – 5 goals – 5 assists – 10 points
Overall rating: B-

Unknown heroes. Every team needs it and Nic Dowd is that type of character. He is just one of those players who rarely makes a defensive error and keeps the coach safe in the middle of the lineup. An excellent benchmark would be Mike Richards a few years ago. Dowd is tied for third in the Caps with a plus-10 rating and continues to see more ice time as head coach Todd Reirden’s confidence grows in companion. Two points that you would like to see improved: the shots on the net (only 25) and its success face to face (49%).

Richard Panik

37 games played – 5 goals – 3 assists – 8 points
Overall rating: C

Richard Panik, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)

It is always difficult to assess a player’s rating when his role has changed considerably during an offseason. We counted a little more on Richard Panik in Arizona last season, which led to a solid 33-point campaign. He also scored 22 goals and 44 points (the two heights of his career) in 2016-2017 with Chicago. It is safe to say that Washington hoped the Slovak would offend more when he signed it with an 11 million dollar contract for four years. It’s not too late for him to start adding a little more, but Panik must use his mark of more than nine to move forward.

Brendan Leipsic

47 games played – 3 goals – 7 assists – 10 points
Overall rating: B-

It’s Brendan Leipsic’s first full run with an NHL club and he’s enjoying it. With limited ice time, you may not notice buzzing # 28 too often, but when you look closely, you will likely be impressed. There is a grainy, physical and rapid presence on the fourth line. The 25-year-old will not fill out the statistics sheets, but he is an excellent rhythm change player. When Washington is in place, it is able to lock down the defensive zone and prevent a goal (over-seven note). When the Caps are down, he is on the ice hitting as many guys as possible and changing momentum.

John Carlson

47 games played – 13 goals – 43 assists – 56 points
Overall rating: A +

It was difficult. The 29-year-old John Carlson phenomenon has been the story of the Capitals this year. He leads all NHL D-men for assists and points, while ranking 10th in the NHL for average ice time (24:47). Probably the Norris Trophy winner, Carlson was unstoppable on both sides of the puck. His emergence as a legendary NHL player has been the foundation of the Capitals’ success to date. He is your class promotion major.

Dmitry Orlov

47 games played – 3 goals – 18 assists – 21 points
Overall rating: B

Dmitry Orlov does not get enough credit for his talent. The 28-year-old Russian has become a constant factor in Washington training and helps form a second reliable pairing. Orlov should easily break his 2016-2017 career point record of 33 points and also shoot the puck more than any other season. With his level of shooting and talent which augurs well for the Capitals. He has gained confidence over the years and it shows in his mobility, but Washington wants to see more of him on the second unit in power play to be really satisfied with his game.

Michal kempny

37 games played – 3 goals – 13 assists – 16 points
Overall rating: B +

Michal Kempny, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)

When you sit back and wonder how the Capitals have been so dominant this season, look at the next two D-men as reasons. Kempny and Radko Gudas were two huge acquisitions for the Capitals and did an incredible job replacing Matt Niskanen & Brooks Orpik. Kempny is a mobile rear guard capable of jumping into the race (as evidenced by its production at the start of the season) and creating opportunities. It compliments John Carlson extremely well given his versatility on the left side. Kempny presented a dynamic set of physicality and intelligence this season and solidified its place on the back-end of the Caps. He’s a great example of a guy who went missing from the Capitals’ formation in their 2007-2016 playoff bouts.

Radko Gudas

47 games played – 2 goals – 12 assists – 14 points
Overall rating: A

Radko Gudas, Washington Capitals (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If you were expecting Radko Gudas to come from Philly and earn more than 50 points then you were deeply disappointed but you were having lunch. However, if you were like the rest of society and expected a solid defensive performance, you are a reasonably happy camper. Gudas came as advertised by putting in strict controls, blocking every shot he can and making sure the puck doesn’t go into his own net. His plus-21 rating is not only the best in the Capitals, but also among the top four D-men in the NHL. Gudas made the difference and should be a great addition to the playoffs given the style of hockey expected.

Nick Jensen

47 games played – 0 goals – 2 assists – 2 points
Overall rating: C +

There were a lot of raised eyebrows when the Capitals gave Madison Bowey to Detroit for relatively unknown Nick Jensen. We can understand why this was the case since Jensen only scored six goals in 257 career games. He is not a flashy player, to say the least. Even with his absence of offense, Jensen has his value with his positioning and awareness of zone D. His minus six score is an eyesore considering the Capitals’ performance, but Jensen is a consistent third pair option.

Jonas Siegenthaler

47 games played – 2 goals – 7 assists – 9 points
Overall rating: B-

The duo of Jensen and Jonas Siegenthaler is probably the biggest weakness of the Capitals. Due to the limited space of caps, it can be difficult to reinforce the five and six points on the list. That said, Siegenthaler performed relatively well in its first full NHL season. At just 22 years old, he is growing day by day and gaining experience with the speed of NHL play. His footwork and development probably takes an extra year or two to get ready for a heavy workload, but he held out and that’s about all the Caps can ask the young man to do. .

Braden Holtby

18-9-4 – 3.02 Goals above average – 0.899 Percentage savings
Overall rating: B

Braden Holtby (Jess Starr / The Hockey Writers)

Simply put, we are used to a better Braden Holtby than what we have seen so far. Holtby came out of the door absolutely miserable and would have received an “F” if this article had been written in November. His inconsistent game does not help his contract case, because the young futurist (Ilya Samsonov) is breathless to take the reins. “Holt-Beast” is one of the best in the game when connected, but this year hasn’t seen enough of the “A” version yet. Fortunately, Washington has provided some support for the targets and there is still a lot of time to make a difference.

Ilya Samsonov

13-2-1 – 2.11 Goals above average – 0.925 Percentage of savings
Overall rating: A

Ilya Samsonov, Washington Capitals (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The future of the Capitals fold: Samsonov. Whether this season or later in his career, Samsonov will be the face of the Washington goalkeepers. General manager Brian MacLellan could not have imagined that the Russian rookie is playing better than that, and the goalkeeper has already made a name for himself in his brief stint. It was such a highlight for the team that you should expect it to start more in the home stretch, and expect Holtby to rest more before the playoffs. (from ‘Does Capitals goalkeeper Ilya Samsonov deserve more playing time?’, The Athletic, 02/01/2020).

We were able to get through the newsletters without distributing detentions. An easier group than most, the Capitals have been excellent in 47 regular season games. Currently at the top of the NHL standings, we will see if the scores begin to drop toward the final exams: the Stanley Cup Playoffs.