3. Is there enough depth on the roster?
The key to winning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as the Washington Capitals are well familiarized with, is having immense depth on offense, defense, and even at goaltending. Unlike their rosters in the past, the Capitals are one of the most top-heavy teams in the NHL and it’s easily going to be their biggest struggle in the 2020-21 NHL season. Outside of their top-nine forwards on offense, the Caps have ridiculous uncertainty in regards to who will contribute to the team’s success.
The most blaring alarm for this squad is not at goaltending, but rather on defense. Yes, John Carlson is emerging as one of the best defensemen in the NHL, but a defense’s effectiveness relies on more than just one player. Nevermind the lack of productivity from the Capitals’ back-end, they don’t even have a true number two defenseman to pair with Johnny.
Outside of Carlson, Dmitry Orlov was the only other defenseman on the Washington Capitals who recorded 20+ points during 2019-20, with Carlson potting 75 total points and Orlov with 27 total points. The next highest was Michal Kempny (18) who played on the top pair with Carlson last season but, unfortunately, he suffered an Achilles injury that was repaired via surgery in the fall. He’s expected to miss six-eight months, which is the opposite of ideal for a team already in dire need of depth on defense as it assures the team that the left-handed defensive defenseman will miss the entirety of the 2021 NHL season.
Looking away from the atrocity on defense, the fourth line for the Capitals will have to uncover hidden gems rather quickly if the team wants to compete in the stacked East Division. Out of the eight teams in this division, six of them made a Playoff appearance this past summer, so it’s safe to say that winning will not come easy, even for the former Stanley Cup champions.
As mentioned before, the key to postseason success is based upon the depth of the roster. Teams that have a fourth-line that wreaks havoc and puts points on the board are the ones that make it to the Finals, as was the case with the Caps in 2017-18.
For this to happen with the Washington Capitals in 2020-21, players like Daniel Sprong will have to make an immediate impact on the roster on Opening Night. Not to put pressure on their young-guns, but if the team is to avenge their disappointing defeat in the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs, they’ll need some unsung heroes to emerge from their bottom-six on offense just to give them a chance.