While the awkward silence from the New York Islanders, who are presumed to have unannounced deals in place with a number of free agents, has drawn headlines this summer, it is the inactivity from the Washington Capitals that should perhaps be gaining more attention. It seems that the oddsmakers have taken notice, even if the national media have not. The current odds from BetMGM, adjusted following the Expansion Draft, NHL Draft, and free agency rush, have the Capitals at 25-1 to win the Stanley Cup in 2021-22. While this may not seem so bad, as Washington is tied with reigning Cup finalist Montreal, they are also tied with the New York Rangers – for the fourth-best mark in the Metropolitan Division. While the Capitals are just outside the top ten league-wide in terms of championship expectations, they first need to make the playoffs to get there. The Carolina Hurricanes (14-1), Pittsburgh Penguins (18-1), and New York Islanders (20-1) top the division’s best bets, which implies that MGM believes that they will receive the automatic bids from the Metropolitan Division.
This isn’t unreasonable; this past season the ’Canes won the Central Division, the Penguins won the East Division, and the Isles advanced to league semifinals. Meanwhile, the Capitals were easily dispatched in the first round by the Boston Bruins. The real surprise, though maybe it shouldn’t be, is that MGM feels the Rangers have drawn even with the Capitals. New York is a young, up-and-coming team while the Capitals are an older team that has lost Brenden Dillon and Michael Raffl and is listening to offers for Evgeny Kuznetsov. Yet, many would still say there is a gap between the two clubs. The oddsmakers feel differently. With three bids from the division and two wild card spots, with four Atlantic Division teams holding better odds than Washington and the Canadiens holding even, it will not be easy this season for the Capitals to even reach the postseason out of the Eastern Conference, nevertheless take home another Stanley Cup. It doesn’t help that they have made no improvements this summer.
- Capitals prospect goaltender Chase Clark has made his college commitment. The 2021 sixth-round pick out of the NCDC’s Jersey Hitmen has signed on with Quinnipiac University, the Hitmen announced. Clark will join the Bobcats for the 2022-23 season after suiting up in the USHL this year. Clark will return to the Tri-City Storm this season, where he played three games last year, before heading off to college. While the NCDC is usually more of a feeder league for the USHL, NAHL, and prep school level rather than a direct source of NHL talent, Clark did enough this season with a .935 save percentage and 1.92 GAA to earn a flier from the Capitals late in the draft. He will be a long-term project for Washington, but developing at a strong program like Quinnipiac, Clark could turn out to be a solid prospect.
- The New Jersey Devils re-located their AHL affiliate from Binghamton to Utica and now coach Sergei Brylin will make the move as well. The Utica Comets have announced that Brylin will join head coach Kevin Dineen’s staff as an assistant, transitioning from his role as associate coach with the Binghamton Devils. Brylin, who played exclusively with the Devils in his 13-year NHL career, has been with the organization as a minor league coach since 2012, joining the former Albany Devils immediately after retiring from playing, then in the KHL. The 47-year-old is likely in line for a promotion to AHL head coach or NHL assistant coach the next time a spot opens up.