Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
This man needs some help.
In many ways, the Caps' huge short-term problem of having no cap space will create a ripple effect that could create the biggest long-term problem I foresee: building the depth necessary to compete with the NHL's elite.
As mentioned in the previous slide, the Caps just do not have the depth and balance necessary to best the likes of the Boston Bruins or Pittsburgh Penguins.
While they are offensively talented enough to match up favorably with most of the teams in their new division, if the goal is to win the Stanley Cup, then they look like they will come up short.
From a long-term standpoint, how do the Caps begin to build the depth they need to roll four solid lines at the opposition so that they can win the Cup?
From a salary-cap standpoint, the Caps should be in a somewhat better position for the 2014-15 season, possibly with as much as $5 million extra to spend. That will certainly help; the list of potential unrestricted free agents for 2014 is pretty impressive.
The Caps might want to just ride things out this season and try to make a serious run at any of those players next season.
But take free agency out of the equation and the Caps' ability to build depth is somewhat questionable. They traded away one of their best young prospects in Fillip Forsberg. Tom Wilson shows a lot of potential, but he is only 19 years old.
The draft in general is a hit-and-miss proposition. For every Alexander Ovechkin or Mike Green, there is always a Jeff Schultz or Pat Peake. Relying on the draft to build depth would be somewhat near-sighted.
Perhaps the answer to all of these issues is Evgeny Kuznetsov, the best prospect in the entire Caps organization. Some might even say he is the best prospect in the world. The 21-year-old center has star written all over him. He can skate with the best of them, pass, score, make plays, has fantastic vision and has even improved his game on defense and as a penalty killer.
The X-factor here is whether or not Kuznetsov will actually come to D.C. this season. Earlier this year, he stated that he would come and play for the Caps after the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
If he does come to Washington after the Olympics, he has the potential to be an immediate game-changer. He is the type of player who could give the Caps that legitimate secondary scoring threat to complement Alexander Ovechkin.
If he remains in Russia, though, then the Caps' options to legitimately build depth appear very limited.