Washington Capitals: 5 Caps Players with Something to Prove in 2011-2012
It's a new season, and the Caps roster looks relatively new. There isn't a Caps fan in the world who isn't excited to see what this team can do.
There are quite a lot of players on that team that have faced a lot of criticism recently, last year in particular, and those players go into the new season with everything to prove.
Here is our pick of the top five Capitals players with things to prove in 2011/12:
5. Tomas Vokoun
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Tomas Vokoun is one of the best goaltenders in the league, and he comes to the Capitals as the new number one goaltender. He needs to prove that he can play that role.
At 35, he's not getting any younger. He needs to show the league and the Capitals brass that he can still play so that he'll be able to finish his career on a big contract somewhere a season or two from now.
While Tomas Vokoun came at an outrageously cheap 1.5 million a year, he was brought in for reason: To bring the city of Washington a Stanley Cup.
4. Marcus Johansson
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At the beginning of last season, Marcus Johansson came in to the NHL and struggled with his adjustment, prompting many to say he had been forced in too early.
He turned it around halfway through and down the stretch he was one of the Capitals' most important player.
He needs to prove that he is the player he showed himself to be in the latter stages. He needs to produce like he did and dominate like he did. If he can do that, the second-line center spot is his.
3. Alexander Semin
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Alexander Semin comes in as one of the most trade-rumored players in the league. Everyone loves to speculate on where he'll end up.
He shouldn't be traded, and he needs to show George McPhee and co that letting him go would be a huge mistake.
It might be a lofty expectation, but I think Marcus Johansson can make Sasha Semin a 40 goal scorer again. Whoever is on the left side, whether it be Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer, or Joel Ward, needs to support that.
2. Brooks Laich
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By all means, six and a half million dollars is a lot of money for a player who has never scored more than 25 goals. That's how much Brooks Laich will be paid next season.
We all know what Brooksy can do, and we all love him, but he needs to step it up to make his monster contract worth it. The Capitals are close to the salary cap ceiling, and you can't have any dead weight.
If he's on the second line, he needs at least 25 goals. If he centers the third, he needs to make that third line the best in the league. I think he can.
1. Nicklas Bäckström
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A player who has in the past been a 30-goal, 100-point player struggled mightily last season. That said, it really says something about the player when a "bad" season sees 65 points.
Nicklas Bäckström has all the talent in the world, but he played a lot injured last season. He comes back fit, and he needs to re-forge that partnership with Alex Ovechkin that has been so feared throughout the league these past few years.
If Bäckström and Ovechkin go back to their old ways. The Caps will be unstoppable.