Commentary

Extreme makeover: Capitals

Washington has more talent this season, but can it defeat its playoff demons?

Originally Published: August 2, 2011
By Neil Greenberg | Special to ESPN Insider
Troy BrouwerBill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesTroy Brouwer's ability to play physical hockey and draw penalties will help the Caps.

Starting with the Philadelphia Flyers' bold trades just before the NHL draft, the league's landscape has undergone some significant changes this offseason. For the next five weeks, Insider contributor Neil Greenberg will examine, in detail, five of the biggest summer renovators -- the San Jose Sharks, the Minnesota Wild, the Los Angeles Kings, the Washington Capitals and the Flyers -- to see what we can expect from their remodeled rosters. The series continues with a look at the Capitals.


"We have done all that we said we would do this offseason. And perhaps even more," said Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, referring to the changes intended to strengthen a roster that has been good enough to finish first in the Eastern Conference the past two seasons but has fallen short in the playoffs each time.

Gone are last season's trade rentals, blueliner Scott Hannan, winger Marco Sturm and center Jason Arnott. Goalie-of-the-future Semyon Varlamov and oft-injured Eric Fehr were traded away for draft picks, while established forwards Boyd Gordon and Matt Bradley moved on in free agency.

The Capitals added depth at forward and on defense by trading for Troy Brouwer and signing free agents Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik and Jeff Halpern, the Capitals' 12th team captain in franchise history. Washington also brought in the veteran goaltender Vokoun on a $1.5 million, one-year bargain-basement deal.

"All the holes are filled," general manager George McPhee said. "I think we have a good, strong team."

McPhee has gotten rave reviews for assembling what might be the best supporting roster the team has had in years, but is it enough for this club to make the leap from pretender to legitimate Cup contender?

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.