The Washington Capitals have announced the 23 players who will make up the team's roster for the season opener at the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, Jan. 14, senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today. The home opener is set for Friday, Jan. 22 against the Sabres at Capital One Arena.
Thirteen forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders make up the Capitals' season-opening roster, led by captain Alex Ovechkin, who led the NHL with 48 goals last season, winning his third straight and NHL record ninth overall Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the League's top scorer. With 706 career goals, Ovechkin needs three goals to pass Mike Gartner (708) for seventh place on the NHL's all-time goals list. A 30-goal season would propel Ovechkin to 738 goals, which would pass Gartner, Phil Esposito (717) and Marcel Dionne (731) for fifth on the NHL's all-time goals list, leaving Ovechkin four goals shy of passing Brett Hull (741) for fourth.
The Capitals enter 2020-21 having won the Metropolitan Division in each of the last five seasons, marking the first time in franchise history the Capitals accomplished the feat. Last season, the Capitals became the eighth franchise in NHL history to win five consecutive division titles and the first since the Anaheim Ducks from 2012-13 to 2016-17.
Head coach Peter Laviolette will make his Caps head coaching debut on Thursday in Buffalo. Laviolette became the 19th head coach in franchise history on Sept. 15 and brings 18 years of NHL coaching experience to the franchise, having previously coached the New York Islanders (2001-03), the Carolina Hurricanes (2003-08), the Philadelphia Flyers (2009-13) and the Nashville Predators (2014-20). Laviolette has compiled a career coaching record of 637-425-25-123 and ranks second in wins among U.S. born coaches and 16th overall in NHL history.
The 2020-21 regular-season schedule will consist of 56 games beginning on Jan. 13 and concluding on May 8. Each team in the East, Central and West divisions will play every other team in its division eight times while each team in the North Division will play every other team in its division nine or 10 times. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with intradivisional play in the first two rounds (#1 vs. #4; #2 vs. #3). The four teams that advance to the Semifinal Round would be seeded by their regular season points total, with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 4 seed in one series and the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds meeting in the other.
The Capitals roster will also include five players on the team's taxi squad (as of Jan. 13): forwards Daniel Carr, Brian Pinho; defenseman Martin Fehervary; goaltenders Pheonix Copley and Zach Fucale. Goaltender Craig Anderson was signed and placed on waivers today with the expectation that he will join the taxi squad if he clears.