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The Capitals Who Missed Out
Brooks Laich (Caps Outsider)
The Caps’ Stanley Cup-winning roster had been in the making even before Alex Ovechkin was drafted first overall in 2004. While it’s gone through significant changes since Ovi’s rookie season, just about every player added along the way had been put there with realistic expectations for winning the Stanley Cup. Some of those players who are no longer with the team played their hearts out and it seems wrong that they didn’t win. Some left purely for financial reasons, as they deserved big raises that the Caps couldn’t afford.
Here is a list of the players who played the most games in the Alex Ovechkin Era (2005-2006) but didn’t win the Stanley Cup.
Brooks Laich – 738 games in Ovi era
I truly feel sorry for Laich, as he was traded in 2015 to Toronto because he was overpaid and had been under-performing since injury issues. Other than Ovi and Nicklas Backstrom, Laich played the most games in this era. While he had no chance of being on this season’s squad, he still seems wrong that he didn’t collect a Cup in his tenure.
Karl Alzner – 591 games
Unlike Laich who most certainly wouldn’t be on this season’s roster, it almost seems wrong that Alzner wasn’t. While Caps fans didn’t appreciate his comments about how he was sick of losing before signing a big deal with the out-of-the-playoffs Canadiens, he was a key piece of the Caps for many years and perhaps one extra year on his last Caps contract would have made him a Stanley Cup champion.
Mike Green – 575 games
John Carlson just signed an eight-year deal for a bazillion dollars, yet Carlson didn’t put up the offensive numbers that Green had. Had it not been for injuries, that contract could have easily been Green’s before the Detroit Red Wings gambled on him. Green is No. 4 in points in the Ovi era, behind Ovi, Backstrom, and Alex Semin. You know, the Young Guns.
Marcus Johansson – 501 games
It’s still weird how Johansson left the team. He was let go for practically nothing but salary cap space, replaced by journeymen who earned the league-minimum. I believe the Caps still would have won the Cup this year if, somehow, MoJo was still on the team. At the same time – unlike Nate Schmidt – I didn’t hear any rumblings about how the Caps struggled without him.
Jason Chimera – 490 games
Chimera was well loved in Washington and played his heart out, but by the time his contract ran out, he was simply too old and the Caps had prospects to step up. Still, it’s not hard to picture Chimera holding that Cup over his head as a Capital and it’s a shame that it didn’t happen.
Matt Bradley – 427 games
Bradley was a fan favorite and is still technically with the team as a scout. I hope he gets a day with the Cup.
Eric Fehr – 419 games
As much as I like Fehr, who had two stints with the Caps during the Ovi era – I can’t feel sorry for him for missing out on the Caps’ Stanley Cup, as he won with the Penguins in 2015-16.
Alexander Semin – 417 games
Semin was one of those players who made the Caps feel like they were contenders, before underperforming in the playoffs. His relatively frequent one-year deals, and his big dud of a contract elsewhere made it clear that Semin was not a player the Caps could’ve kept appeasing until a Cup happened.
Jeff Schultz – 399 games
Caps fans hated him, and analytics folks to this day use his team-record +50 as Exhibit A as how the plus/minus stat is awful. Caps fans were glad to be rid of him, though he did win a Cup with L.A., and even a Calder Cup a year after that (his second).
Shaone Morrisonn – 374 games
Yes, I’m shocked too on how many games Morrisonn played in this era, but it was mostly during the losing seasons when Washington was more psyched about Ovechkin than actually winning.
John Erskine – 350 games
Another fan favorite, Erskine spent too much time injured and/or healthy-scratched and it was only a matter of time before he was let go. He was always fine as a third-pairing defender, and it would’ve been up to most of the rest of the team to win a Cup while he played as he held his ground. It would’ve been great seeing him win a Cup in D.C.
Boyd Gordon – 322 games
Gordon was around before the Ovi era and held a roster spot through 2010-2011 but never put up impressive numbers.
Troy Brouwer – 293 games
I loved Brouwer when he was here but I was even more stoked that he was traded for T.J. Oshie. Plus, he already won a cup with Chicago. It would’ve been nice to have won a Cup when he played in Washington but it’s doubtful he would’ve made it to this team had the trade never happened.
David Steckel – 291 games
Steckel was a product of the Bruce Boudreau era, a master of faceoffs and even a playoff hero, but needed to be replaced and wasn’t sorely missed.
Tomas Fleischmann – 283 games
Though he had some offensive skill, Fleischmann was a good prospect but ultimately didn’t fit with the team.
Joel Ward – 276 games
Ward did play playoff hero several times in his four-year tenure with the team, and in an alternate universe, would have been a Stanley Cup champion. He did make it to the Finals with the Sharks after he left the Caps, but it didn’t make sense to keep him around after his contract ran out. It’s still a shame he didn’t win a Cup in D.C.
Chris Clark – 240 games
Clark was captain of the Caps before Ovechkin, but injuries slowed him down and he was eventually traded for Jason Chimera. He was a great team player and locker room guy but the Caps didn’t really kick it up a notch until he was gone.
Tom Poti – 230 games
Poti was brought in to solidify the defense and even played well until injuries took their toll, and he hasn’t played in the NHL since.
Donald Brashear – 220 games
Brashear was another fan-favorite but he was used almost entirely for his fists, even during the 2008-2009 where he got himself suspended. If he won a Cup with D.C. it would’ve been as a healthy scratch.
Mike Knuble – 220 games
Knuble played his heart out with the Caps, assisting on Ward’s OT game-winning goal in the playoffs against Boston. Because of his age, there was no way the Caps were going to keep him around, but it’s a shame they couldn’t win a Cup during his three seasons in D.C.
Milan Jurcina – 211 games
Jurcina was traded for Chimera, and then reacquired in that infamous 2009 season when the Caps were upset by Montreal. In an alternate universe, he would have won that year where the hopes had been as high as ever.
Matt Hendricks – 203 games
A fan favorite, Hendricks clawed his was into relevance in Washington. While he’s been gone too long for anyone to have missed him on this roster, the Caps weren’t pushovers when Hendricks was on the ice, and he got a fat contract elsewhere, something the Caps couldn’t have afforded at the time.
Nate Schmidt – 200 games
If life were fair, Schmidt would have been a Washington Capital and raised the Stanley Cup. Some have argued that the Caps might not have made it to the finals if he were on the team, instead of, say, Michal Kempny, but this guy made it to the Finals as one of the top minute-men on his new team. I have no doubt the Caps could’ve won with Schmidt.
Matt Pettinger – 191 games
Pettinger was around too early in the Ovi years and needed to be replaced with someone better.
Justin Williams – 162 games
A three-time Cup winner and a Conn Smythe winner himself, Williams was brought to Washington to win a Cup. He only had two years, both of which were derailed by the Penguins. In an alternate timeline, Williams would’ve been signed for three seasons and won this year. (Side note: Williams had 51 points with Carolina this year, similar to his Caps numbers)
Brian Pothier – 160 games
Like Pettinger , Pothier played too early in the Ovi years and wasn’t the reason the team thrived. Even had he won a Cup with Washington, it would’ve been as a healthy scratch.
Mathieu Perreault – 159 games
Like Fleischmann, Perreault was another player with offensive potential but it was hard to fit him into the top 6, while he’d struggle to score on the third line.
Jeff Halpern – 139 games in the Ovi era
Most of Halpern’s time with the Caps came before the Ovechkin years, but he was captain in 2005-06 before playing for playing for a bunch of other teams and them brought back in 2011-12. The Caps lost in 7 games to the Rangers in Round 2 that year, when the 8th-seeded Kings beat the 6th-seeded Devils.
Filip Forsberg – 0 games
The Caps won the Cup and the Predators didn’t. Quit crying about this trade.