The Washington Capitals were last season's Presidents' Trophy Champions. With the best regular season win/loss record, they were deemed the favorites to enter the NHL playoff picture and exit the Stanley Cup Champions. This was the second consecutive year the Capitals found themselves in this position and the second consecutive year the Capitals exited early after failing to live up to expectations. The result appears to be massive turnover for one of the league's strongest teams.
Entering the summer, the Washington Capitals found themselves with eight significant free agents. Some unrestricted free agents and some restricted free agents, most of these players were going to be popular among the many other teams that could use talent the likes of Kevin Shattenkirk, Karl Alzner, and Justin Williams. As T.J. Oshie did, all could still possibly re-sign with the Capitals, however, most are rumored to leave the organization.
The Capitals picked up Shattenkirk at the 2016-17 trade deadline. He was meant to put the team over the top and added a power play quarterback with a flair for offense to a team already stacked with skill. He finished the regular season ranked fourth in points by defensemen and tied for second in power play goals for all NHL defenders. In the playoffs, he led all Capitals blueliners with six points in 13 games.
As such, all indications are that Shattenkirk will be looking for a massive payday on a contract extension. He'll be one of the most sought after unrestricted free agents this summer and likely wildly overpaid — an occurrence that often happens on July 1. The likelihood is, another team will extend an offer more appealing and many believe Shattenkirk has his eyes on the New York Rangers. The Tampa Bay Lightning ave also reached out.
Karl Alzner has been a steadfast regular on the blueline for the Capitals. A 20-minute per night defender, Alzner is an extremely reliable stay-at-home type defender who will find a variety of suitors come July 1.
To date, Alzner has already met with the Montreal Canadiens and garnered interest from the Vancouver Canucks.
The speculation that Justin Williams may sacrifice both term and money to play with a contender is very real. It's the reason he signed with the Washington Capitals and it's the same reason that if he believes the Caps are struggling, he may jump ship. He'll have plenty of takers.
Known as "Mr. Game 7", Williams is a grizzled veteran with a knack for scoring big goals. He can add a variety of features to a number of teams and while he may decide the Capitals have the best chance to come back as strong contenders, he may consider a change.
Justin Williams will chat with Caps management this week to see if he's still a fit. 50/50 he's back in Washington next season.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 26, 2017
Outside of these three players, the Capitals have Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov to get re-signed and on new deals. If they do, they'll be looking to replace those they lost.
The Washington Capitals are being forced to reexamine their disappointing seasons and all signs pointing to this being one of the Capitals more challenging summers.