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Washington Capitals fantasy preview for 2019-20

Backstrom, Holtby valuable options in contract years; Wilson, Vrana breakout candidates

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / NHL.com Fantasy Editor

As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from the Washington Capitals. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.

 

[Capitals 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the Numbers]

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 ranks | Mock draft | Team previews | Cheat sheet

 

Alex Ovechkin, LW (NHL.com rank: 2) -- He leads the NHL in goals since 2013-14 (287; 79 more than runner-up Sidney Crosby's 208) and has the most in the category among active players (658). Ovechkin, the No. 1 left wing in NHL.com's rankings, led the NHL with 51 goals last season, the fifth time in six seasons he's had at least 49. Ovechkin also leads the NHL in shots on goal (2,185) and power-play goals (120) since 2013-14 by wide margins and covers hits (2.6 per game in NHL career) at an elite level. With unmatched category coverage, Ovechkin belongs in the conversation with right wing Nikita Kucherov and center Connor McDavid for the top pick in standard drafts.

 

John Carlson, D (29) -- Over the past two seasons, Carlson leads NHL defensemen in power-play points (65) and ranks second at the position in points (138) behind Brent Burns (150). The Capitals power play uncharacteristically finished outside the top 10 in the NHL last season (12th; 20.8 percent), giving Carlson (70 points, 33 PPP) an even higher ceiling if Washington finishes among the five best. Carlson, who brings added value in leagues with blocked shots (2.0 per game last season), is the No. 4 defenseman in NHL.com's rankings.

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov, C (53) -- The center had 72 points (21 goals, 51 assists) in 76 games last season and tied his NHL career high in SOG (193). It was the third time Kuznetsov scored at least 72 points in the past four seasons and his second consecutive with at least 23 PPP. Kuznetsov, who plays with Ovechkin at even strength and on the first power play, has a ceiling of finishing among the 25 best fantasy players but may be attainable outside the top 50 overall.

 

Braden Holtby, G (59) -- The goalie ranks first in wins (197) since 2014-15 with 19 more than second-best Pekka Rinne (178). Holtby's 24 shutouts over that span are tied with Sergei Bobrovsky for second behind Marc-Andre Fleury's 28. Despite an average save percentage in each of the past two seasons (.907 in 2017-18; .911 in 2018-19), Holtby is ranked among NHL.com's top 10 goalies entering his contract year (potential 2020 unrestricted free agent).

 

Nicklas Backstrom, C (61) -- The center had 74 points (22 goals, 52 assists) last season, including 25 PPP as a fixture on the first unit with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Carlson and right wing T.J. Oshie. Backstrom, who's entering a contract year (potential 2020 UFA), leads the NHL with 193 power-play points since 2013-14 and has had at least seven PPG in each of the past three seasons. Backstrom, even without full-time exposure to Ovechkin, is a safe target anytime outside the top 50 overall.

 

Tom Wilson, RW (90) -- Despite missing 19 games (14 because of suspension), Wilson had NHL career highs in goals (22), points (40) and SOG (130). Wilson solidified his role skating with Ovechkin on the top line and was the only player in the NHL with at least 20 goals and 3.0 hits per game (3.2; 200 total). Wilson shot a high percentage last season (16.9 percent) but still has a higher fantasy ceiling with prime lineup placement over a full season.

 

T.J. Oshie, RW (133) -- The right wing had 54 points (25 goals, 29 assists) in 69 games, an 82-game pace of 64 points; Oshie's NHL career high is 60 with the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14. He has at least 13 PPP in each of the past seven full seasons and brings valuable exposure to Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov and Carlson on Washington's PP1. Oshie is worth targeting in the 10th round or later in a standard 12-team fantasy draft.

 

Jakub Vrana, LW (202) -- The left wing quietly finished second on the Capitals in even-strength goals (23) behind Ovechkin (33). Vrana's 43 even-strength points ranked fifth on the Capitals behind Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov and wing Brett Connolly (signed with Florida Panthers on July 1). Vrana is a breakout candidate who can feasibly score at least 30 goals on a line with Backstrom and Oshie.

 

Other players to consider in late rounds or off waiver wire: Dmitry Orlov, D; Michal Kempny, D; Pheonix Copley, G; Lars Eller, C; Richard Panik, LW/RW, WSH

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