In Washington the Capitals are going through another transition. Adam Oates was named as head coach this summer the same day that he received his Hall of Fame induction phone call. His influence on the Capital’s style of play can determine the productivity of his blue line.
The Capitals' defensive corps is led by offensive-minded Mike Green, who will finally be playing with a clean bill of health after struggling through the past two seasons with shoulder, ankle and groin injuries. When Green was healthy he was putting up Norris Trophy numbers.
What will be interesting is to see if Oates' coaching style will favor the up tempo style from the Bruce Boudreau days or if they continue the defensive focus that Dale Hunter implemented. John Carlson, John Erskine, Karl Alzner, Roman Hamrlik join Green and second year man Dmitry Orlov.
While they weren’t constructed to be an overly physical group, Dennis Wideman, who took his talents to Calgary, led the Capitals defensemen in hits. In his rookie campaign, Orlov finished second among defensemen with 99 hits of his own. In the shot-blocking category, Carlson led the way with 153, followed closely by Hamrlik (149) and Alzner (139).
The primary duty of the bunch is to support the talented forwards in Washington. The Capitals are only a couple of years removed from being the most potent offense in all of hockey.
Of this crew, John Carlson (22) looks ready to break out and be a star in the league. His plus/minus left a bit to be desired (-15), but he showed the promise of some serious offensive production. Orlov looks like he could be special as well, and a lot more physical.
As with any of these teams, the top four provide some legitimate options in the fantasy world. Green, Carlson, Alzner and Orlov speculated to fill those spots. Anything beyond that might be a reach.
Now all we need is some hockey.