What the Carolina Hurricanes can learn from the Washington Capitals

RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 12: Carolina Hurricanes Left Wing Brock McGinn (23) is knocked to the ice by Washington Capitals Defenceman Matt Niskanen (2) in front of Carolina Hurricanes Goalie Cam Ward (30) during a game between the Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on January 12, 2018. Washington defeated Carolina 4-3. (Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - JANUARY 12: Carolina Hurricanes Left Wing Brock McGinn (23) is knocked to the ice by Washington Capitals Defenceman Matt Niskanen (2) in front of Carolina Hurricanes Goalie Cam Ward (30) during a game between the Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on January 12, 2018. Washington defeated Carolina 4-3. (Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Washington Capitals have won their first Stanley Cup in Franchise History. How can the Carolina Hurricanes learn from their success and find postseason success themselves?

The Washington Capitals finally got to lift the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history. Players like Alexander Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie finally get to cement their legacies as great players. This postseason was the end of several unfavorable streaks for the Caps. It not only ended their championship-less streak but also their streak of losses in the second round. So how did they manage to turn their franchise? And what can the Carolina Hurricanes learn from them?

While I won’t break down the entire Capitals franchise and how they got to where they are today, I will break down elements the Hurricanes can emulate. These are elements that the Canes can incorporate this offseason or conduct during the next season.

Washington’s Last Offseason

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When Washington went into the offseason last year they ran into a big issue. The salary cap limit forced them to pick and choose who they could keep going into the 2017-2018 season. It forced them to choose players like Oshie over Justin Williams.

Williams, of course, found his way back to Carolina. They stuck with their best players, a core of nine, including Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Holtby. They relegated to picking or trading for cheaper players and promoting youth.

This allowed the Capitals to continue to build around their superstar captain. Some were worried about the depth of the Capitals after they reached into their farm system. There were those who claimed it made them a worse off team than the previous season.

History proved otherwise. The core players performed better than expected, elevating the play of the new additions. Even Philipp Grubauer, who backed up Holtby, elevated his play to help the Capitals hoist the cup.

What it Teaches Carolina

The Carolina Hurricanes do not have the same issues with salary cap this offseason. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. However, the lesson remains. Build around your superstar and keep your best performers. In Carolina’s case, that would be Sebastian Aho. He already has Teuvo Teravainen, now they must give them a good center. Without the salary cap issue that Washington had, Carolina can afford to bring in top talent in free agency. Having a solid top line makes a world of difference.

Do not be afraid of allowing your youth to shine. Carolina has several excellent players in their pipeline that can make a difference now. Some like Zykov or Foegele have already given Raleigh a tease of what they can do. With the second round pick in hand, players like Andrei Svechnikov or Filip Zadina could also be a contributing factor next season.

Next: Ranking Each NHL Team's All-Time Starting Lineup

The Washington Capitals laid a very simple yet controversial roadmap towards success. Carolina is already halfway there. Tom Dundon promised to shake up the roster. It’s now a matter of how not if. Perhaps if they follow in Washington’s footsteps, Sebastian Aho and the Carolina Hurricanes will be hoisting the Stanley Cup in one year’s time.