Headed into the 2020-21 NHL season, four big questions are surrounding the Washington Capitals.
The time is almost here, as the 2020-21 NHL season is set to begin in just a week and the Washington Capitals are gearing up to make a deep Playoff run after their disappointing early exit last year. As many know, the Stanley Cup window for the Capitals is dwindling as their veteran core is another year older.
With their regular-season debut set to begin next week, four questions surround this franchise.
The Washington Capitals have had an intriguing offseason, to say the least, after the team parted ways with long-time netminder and Stanley Cup champion Braden Holtby. In addition to this major departure, the Capitals also hired a new Head Coach in Peter Laviolette, who they believe can lead them back to the promised land.
This team is poised for a rebound year, but whether or not they’ll contend for the Stanley Cup in the spring will be based on the answers to these four questions. Without further delay, let’s dive on in and see what will be answered in the 2020-21 NHL season for the Washington Capitals.
4. Can Zdeno Chara be a legitimate contributor?
The Washington Capitals made perhaps one of the most unexpected signings in Free Agency when they picked up the former Captain of the Boston Bruins, future Hall of Famer defenseman Zdeno Chara. Signed to a one-year, $795,000 contract with the Capitals after a 14-year stint with the Bruins, Chara is expected to play a top-six defensive pair role, with the potential of sliding into the top four.
While he still has his debilitating slap shot that still instills fear in everyone on the ice, it’s obvious he’s lost several steps in his game. However, Big-Z was able to remain a contributor for the Bruins due to his incredible reach given his colossal 6-foot-9 frame. On a defense that lacks tenacity and physicality, Chara will be a huge improvement on the team for that facet of the game alone.
Whether he can impact other aspects of the game though, will be a massive question mark for the veteran headed into his 23rd season in the NHL and first with the Washington Capitals. In 68-games played in 2019-20, Chara had just 5 goals and 9 assists for 14 total points. Before fans hang their head on this one, it should be noted that he still blocked over 100 shots and totaled 78 hits on the year. For a Capitals team that had two players who registered 100+ blocked shots, a third is a warm-welcomed addition.
Set to turn 43-years old in 2021, this is likely Zdeno Chara’s Swan Song. With that being said, don’t be surprised to see Chara have an extra pep in his step as he looks to finish off his legendary NHL career with another Stanley Cup ring. For this to happen though, he’ll have to lower his Giveaway total of 52 in the 2019-20 season, while also committing more to support goaltender Ilya Samsonov who will desperately need it.