The Washington Capitals may be considered one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, but they have their work cut out for them. The team struggled in the last two months before play was suspended with a mediocre 8-9-3 over their past 20 games. Much of their struggle is due to the team’s poor defense where head coach Todd Reirden was seen experimenting with different defensive combinations over that stretch, which included removing veteran Radko Gudas from the rotation altogether.
In a panel of writers, The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir (subscription required) writes that a new training camp couldn’t come at the right time for the Capitals who now have a second chance to find the right pairings and fix their leaky blueline. Much will depend on the players and how they perform at training camp, but there is hope that defenseman Michal Kempny might have more confidence now in his surgically repaired hamstring. The team will also hope Gudas can bounce back and push his way back into the lineup. The team might also get a boost from trade deadline acquisition Brenden Dillon, who will get a training camp to adjust to his new team. El-Bashir also notes the team could look to prospect Martin Fehervary, who will also be on the Capitals’ roster.
- In a recent mailbag column, The Athletic’s Arpon Basu (subscription requires) responds to a question about offer sheets and St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn. Basu wonders whether the Montreal Canadiens might be an interesting destination for the 23-year-old blue liner since St. Louis is currently cap-strapped and have to deal with the contract of Alex Pietrangelo as well as the future contracts of Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Binnington. A significant offer sheet at around $4.2MM AAV would be very challenging for the Blues to match and would bring quite a few questions on whether Dunn is worth that much since. especially since he’s not even eligible for arbitration. That offer would only cost the Canadiens a second-round pick in compensation as well. Montreal is also the most recent team to use an offer sheet, having tried to pry away Carolina’s Sebastian Aho last offseason to no avail.
- The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont writes that head coach Bruce Cassidy is stuck once again with answering the question, ’Who will play alongside David Krejci?’ on the team’s second line. The scribe writes that while Jake Debrusk would seem to be a solid candidate to take that role, training camp could open up the possibilities of moving Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase into those roles where chemistry might not be that big of an issue with time to acclimate with Krejci. That would not be good for Debrusk’s stock as he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year and finding himself on the third line wouldn’t help is value.