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Team Reset

Capitals aim to repeat with Reirden now coach

Worked past four seasons under Trotz, inherits familiar team

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Washington Capitals:

The Washington Capitals promoted Todd Reirden to coach after Barry Trotz resigned June 18, less than two weeks after the Capitals won the Stanley Cup for the first time since entering the NHL in 1974.

Reirden, who was named coach June 29, was on Washington's staff the past four seasons, including the past two as associate coach.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

Washington returns 18 of the 20 players who were active for the Stanley Cup Final win against the Vegas Golden Knights. Only forward Jay Beagle and backup goalie Philipp Grubauer are gone.

The Capitals re-signed forward Devante Smith-Pelly (one year, $1 million) and defensemen John Carlson (eight years, $64 million) and Michal Kempny (four years, $10 million) before each became an unrestricted free agent. They brought back defenseman Brooks Orpik on a one-year, $1 million contract after he was traded at the 2018 NHL Draft to the Colorado Avalanche and later bought out. On Friday, Washington signed restricted free agent forward Tom Wilson to a six-year, $31 million contract.

Video: VGK@WSH, Gm4: Carlson blasts one-timer for PPG

"I think that the familiarity is going to make this situation much easier," Reirden said. "Especially familiarity going into a situation where you've just won doing it a certain way."

Video: Looking at the Capitals' offseason, season outlook

Reirden is the fourth coach in the past 30 years to take over a team that won the Stanley Cup the previous season, joining Scotty Bowman (1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins), Colin Campbell (1994-95 New York Rangers) and Dave Lewis (2002-03 Detroit Red Wings).

Nic Dowd, who was signed as a potential replacement for Beagle as the fourth-line center, was Washington's most notable player addition.

Here is what the Capitals look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Todd Reirden, coach: He paid his dues waiting for his first NHL coaching job, working four seasons for the Capitals after four seasons as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Reirden's only previous experience as coach was with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the American Hockey League from 2008-10. … Nic Dowd, C: The 28-year-old signed a one-year, $650,000 contract July 1 to compete with rookie Travis Boyd for the fourth-line center position. Dowd had four points (three goals, one assist) in 56 games last season with the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks, and had 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 70 games with Los Angeles in 2016-17.

 

Key departures

Barry Trotz, coach: Unsatisfied with a contract offer from the Capitals, the 56-year-old decided to leave and was hired by the New York Islanders on June 21. Washington was 205-89-34 in four seasons under Trotz, who won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 2015-16. … Philipp Grubauer, G: After backing up Braden Holtby the past three seasons, Grubauer was traded to the Avalanche with Orpik on June 22. The 26-year-old was 15-10-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and three shutouts last season. … Jay Beagle, C: The 32-year-old signed a four-year, $12 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1 after he had 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 79 games last season and led the Capitals in face-off percentage at 58.5 percent.

 

On the cusp

Pheonix Copley, G: The 26-year-old will back up Holtby, at least to begin the season, after going 15-17-6 with a 2.91 GAA, .896 save percentage and two shutouts last season with Hershey in the AHL. Copley played two NHL games (one start) for the St. Louis Blues, going 0-1-0 with a 4.32 GAA and .829 save percentage. … Ilya Samsonov, G: The Capitals' plan for Samsonov, who was selected with the No. 22 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, is to begin the season with Hershey after playing for Magnitogorsk in the Kontinental Hockey League the past three seasons. The 21-year-old was 12-9-1 with a 2.31 GAA, .926 save percentage and three shutouts last season. … Shane Gersich, F: Selected in the fifth round (No. 134) of the 2014 NHL Draft, the 22-year-old had one assist in three regular-season games and played in two Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Capitals last season. He signed a two-year, entry-level contract March 23 following his junior year at the University of North Dakota.

 

What they still need

A veteran backup goalie, depending on whether Copley can handle the starts he'll receive and how long Samsonov needs in Hershey to adjust to the North American game.

 

Fantasy focus

The Capitals have multiple elite players in fantasy hockey (Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Carlson, Holtby) but young forwards Jakub Vrana and Andre Burakovsky could finally become fantasy relevant after the hiring of Reirden. Vrana had flashes of brilliance during the playoffs, including one goal and two assists in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Penguins. He found consistent usage during the playoffs on the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, which makes him an intriguing late-round flier. Burakovsky played on the third line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly but could see elevated playing time with injury concerns or lineup trends throughout the season. -- Rob Reese

Video: WSH@TBL, Gm7: Burakovsky nets second of period

 

Projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky -- Lars Eller -- Brett Connolly

Chandler Stephenson -- Travis Boyd -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Brooks Oprik -- Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby

Pheonix Copley

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