With the type of season it has been for the Washington Capitals, one has to wonder what the Caps' roster might look like next season.
Some things are a foregone conclusion. We know Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby will be in D.C. next season. Beyond those three, though, there is a bit more uncertainty.
We do know that Filip Forsberg won't be coming to Washington. As most Caps fans know by now, at the trade deadline the Caps acquired Martin Erat, and minor league prospect Michael Latta, from the Nashville Predators, but they paid a heavy price to do so as they traded Forsberg to the Preds to complete the deal (via The Washington Post).
Erat is one of many members of the Caps whose future is not exactly etched in stone. Who else might be leaving D.C. to take their talents elsewhere?
It is helpful to look at the Caps' upcoming free agents to get a better handle on this. A list of the Caps' upcoming restricted free agents (RFA) can be found here, and a list of their upcoming unrestricted free agents (UFA) can be found here.
When looking at both listings, several names stand out as as being highly likely to be back in D.C. next season. On the RFA side of the fence, I can't see Karl Alzner or Marcus Johansson going anywhere. Alzner is one of the anchors for the Caps defense, and he has been getting paired up with Mike Green on the Caps' top defensive line.
Johansson, meanwhile, has eight points in his past seven games and has been playing much better. Much of that has to do with his being paired on the Caps' top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom. Still, MoJo has shown what an essential part of the team he is. The penalty he drew in overtime against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday turned out to be the key moment that won the game for the Caps.
I fully expect both Alzner and MoJo to get qualifying offers from the Caps and to remain in D.C. next season.
As to UFAs, that is a much tougher nut to crack. Any of them could be back or none of them. In all likelihood most will be back—but not all of them.
So which Caps players will be leaving this offseason? Here are my predictions as to four players who will be elsewhere next year.