The Runner Sports

Washington Capitals’ UFA Decisions

It’s been almost three weeks since the Washington Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs. As usual, they will have extra time to focus on their offseason. This starts with their free agents. Washington has quite a few unrestricted free agents this year. The question presents itself: what should they do with each of them? Here are my thoughts on what the Capitals will do with their major UFAs:

TJ Oshie, RW

Season Stats: 68 GP, 33 G, 22 A, 55 PTS, +28, 36 PIM, 7 PPG

Playoff Stats: 13 GP, 4 G, 8 A, 12 PTS, +2, 4 PIM, 2 PPG

This is an easy call for me. Oshie should be a priority UFA for Washington to bring back. Since coming to D.C. last season, he has shown amazing chemistry with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to form one of the top forward lines in the NHL. He has some silky stick-handling moves and is a big part of Washington’s power play. Oshie also has some physical prowess which is valuable in front of the net. Several sources have stated that the Capitals are working on a new deal with Oshie so there should be more to come on that front. In the meantime, my thought is pretty obvious.

Verdict: Re-sign

 

Kevin Shattenkirk, D

Season Stats: 19 GP, 2 G, 12 A, 14 PTS, +4, 10 PIM, 1 PPG

Playoff Stats: 13 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, -4, 6 PIM, 1 PPG

Shattenkirk was acquired at the trade deadline to shore up Washington’s defense for a long playoff run. His performance as the season ended gave hopes that he would be a valuable asset. During the playoffs, the case was quite the opposite. Shattenkirk was more of a detractor than an asset. Yes, he scored the overtime winner in Game 3 against Pittsburgh, but that’s all that really stood out. He struggled heavily and it was noticeable. If the Capitals had won the Stanley Cup, I would have said they think about bringing Shattenkirk back. Today, I think we’ve seen the last of #22.

Verdict: Release

 

Justin Williams, RW

Season Stats: 80 GP, 24 G, 24 A, 48 PTS, +14, 50 PIM, 5 PPG

Playoff Stats: 13 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 PTS, +/- 0, 6 PIM, 1 PPG

I loved the Williams signing last year and it’s paid off huge dividends in his two years with the team. The Capitals finally had a veteran who could be a presence both on and off the ice. Not to mention this veteran also has three Stanley Cups on his resume. Williams has been a reliable part of the second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson. He plays hard every shift and his leadership can’t be understated. He struggled points wise at the end of the playoffs but still played his heart out. This should be a player that the Capitals need to bring back and I think they will try to retain him.

Verdict: Re-sign

 

Karl Alzner, D

Season Stats: 82 GP, 3 G, 10 A, 13 PTS, +23, 28 PIM, 0 PPG

Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 0 G, 0A, 0 PTS, -1, 2 PIM, 0 PPG

The “Iron Man” of the Capitals’ defense had never missed a game before he got hurt in Game 2 against Toronto. He returned during the Pittsburgh series and just wasn’t the same player. He struggled to regain his shutdown form and Pittsburgh took advantage. Before the injury, Alzner was the Capitals’ best shutdown defenseman and was looking at a pretty pay raise. However, that raise might not come from the Capitals. Alzner will command a lot of money from his healthy streak and true defenseman abilities but that number may be too much for the Capitals to match.

Verdict: Release

 

Brett Connolly, RW

Season Stats: 66 GP, 15 G, 8 A, 23 PTS, +20, 40 PIM, 1 PPG

Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, -2, 0 PIM, 0 PPG

Connolly may have been the best value free agent signing for the Capitals this season. Who expected him to score 15 goals? Definitely not I, and I’m sure neither did the fan base. Not bad for a guy who only made $850,000. He probably would have been brought back for a similar, if not, slightly higher price if he hadn’t been benched in the playoffs. That pretty much all but ended his brief tenure in Washington. I would still like to see him back because of his chemistry with Andre Burakovsky and Lars Eller. But, the front office might see things differently.

Verdict: Release 

 

Daniel Winnik, C

Season Stats: 72 GP, 12 G, 13 A, 25 PTS, +15, 49 PIM, 0 PPG

Playoff Stats: 13 GP, 0 G, 0A, 0 PTS, -4, 0 PIM, 0 PPG

Winnik was a pleasant surprise during the regular season. His unexpected offensive output matched with his physical skills made him a key part of Washington’s stellar fourth line. However, like the rest of the fourth line, he disappeared in the playoffs. The only thing I can remember is him missing the net on a breakaway in Game 7 against Pittsburgh. Fans will miss the best mustache in the NHL as the team will most likely move on from “Winnie.”

Verdict: Release

Andrew Markowitz

Longtime Capitals fan hoping to see a Stanley Cup parade in D.C. this year...or at least once in my life

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