So far, this offseason has seen numerous big changes for many teams, including the Washington Capitals.
The notable changes in Washington thus far include the loss of Dennis Wideman, a hard working defenseman, and the additions of Mike Ribeiro and Wojtek Wolski. While it has yet to be made official, it also appears that Alexander Semin will be headed elsewhere. Another notable addition was the first round draft pick of Filip Forsberg, a young Swede with great potential, but is not yet ready to be relied upon in the NHL.
But one might ask, is this the right direction for the franchise?
Ever since Alex Ovechkin became the face of the franchise in 2005/06, the team has been known for three things: beautiful goals, all-out offense and coming up short in the playoffs.
That is, of course, until last season. Last season, Bruce Boudreau continually pushed Ovechkin as well as the rest of the team towards becoming more defensively aware, sacrificing the offense in the process. When Boudreau was shown the door midway through the season, the team continued their new defensive and hard-working style under Dale Hunter.
While they struggled to make the playoffs, the Capitals had an impressive playoff run while eliminating the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the first round, and bringing the top-seeded New York Rangers to the brink of elimination in the second.
It seemed as though the team had finally found a new identity that worked. But one would think they'd feed off this new strategy and pick up hard working players in the offseason.
While losing Semin is a step in the right direction, the additions of Ribeiro and Wolski almost counteract that.
Ribeiro is an incredibly talented and shifty forward, but has a reputation of making poor defensive decisions (and diving). Wolski is another shifty and talented forward who's lost his way over the recent years. He still has potential, but if his career continues as it has, he will be fairly non-existent on the ice, while proving his worth in shootouts.
The loss of Wideman will also sting, as his style was almost a clear reflection of the Capitals new-found identity last season.
With the facts given thus far, the Capitals look to have gotten worse, taking a step away from the hard-working team of last year.
But with a new face behind the bench, will it work?
NHL legend, and one of the best play-makers in the history of the game, Adam Oates now has the job of head coach. Oates is an offensively minded individual who's expected to let the Capitals loose.
In the process, they could shed the hard-working two-way identity they build last season, making way for the all-out offense we've gotten used to in the past.
The only question is: with the all-out offense, will the Capitals once again be known as the team who can't perform in the playoffs, as they get out-worked by the defensively minded teams of the East?
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