Caps Offensive Projections for Upcoming Season: Left-Wings

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Posted November 16, 2020

Caps Outsider predicts that Alex Ovechkin will be playing left wing. (Caps Outsider)

After winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Washington Capitals have many questions to answer after back-to-back first round eliminations, and the focus once again turns to making a similar run in the future.

In the upcoming season, the Capitals will return many of the offensive weapons that saw them lift the cup in 2018. While open spots linger and new head coach Peter Laviolette will certainly need to make adjustments, the Capitals boast a strong lineup filled with experience and veteran leadership.

This season, the Capitals bring back three left-wings with a fourth line spot up for grabs. Most notably of these returnees is fan-favorite Alexander Ovechkin, along with Jakub Vrana and Carl Hagelin. Last season, these three left-wingers combined for a total of 81 goals, 63 assists and 144 points during the regular season.

(Caps Outsider)

Alexander Ovechkin (6’ 3”, 236 lbs, 35 years old)
Perhaps the best player in the team’s history, the “Great 8” enters his 16th season with the Capitals and looks to continue to be one of the main offensive weapons.

Arguably one of the greatest scorers of all time, Ovechkin comes off a relatively average 2019-2020 season by his standards. While his goals-per-game average was slightly up, his assist average was slightly down after the season was shortened. Despite this, there is little reason to worry as the captain is still undoubtedly the most valuable player on the ice for the Capitals and he will certainly continue to keep up his league-leading goal-scoring pace. But if the Caps expect to continue to be a threat, he’ll need to bump up his assist totals and make his linemates a scoring threat as well.

(Caps Outsider)

Jakub Vrana (6’ 0”, 195 lbs, 24 years old)
Another notable name from the 2018 Stanley Cup run, Jakub Vrana continues to improve since the beginning of his career in 2016.

Compared to two seasons ago, Vrana scored 12 more goals, recorded 13 more assists and totalled 25 more points. In order for the Capitals to be successful, Vrana will need to improve once again and make key contributions on the offensive side of the puck. Capitals fans should anticipate a similar trend and expect Vrana to step up amongst a group of veteran leaders.

(Caps Outsider)

Carl Hagelin (6’ 0”, 185 lbs, 32 years old)
After 9 seasons with 5 different squads, Carl Hagelin enters his third straight season with the Capitals. Last season, Hagelin played in 58 games and managed only 25 points (8g, 17a).

While those numbers certainly weren’t “flashy” by any stretch, it is important to note that the last time Hagelin broke 25 points was during the 2015 season with Pittsburgh (27 points). As he will continue to improve and play more games, there is a lot of potential for him to match some of his higher point totals this upcoming season.

–Fourth Liners–

(Caps Outsider)

Garnet Hathaway (6’ 3”, 210 lbs, 28 years old)
With an opening on the fourth line, it is likely that the Capitals may turn back to Garnet Hathaway. Hathaway comes off his first season with the Capitals in which he played 66 games and accounted for 16 points (9g, 7a). This will be Hathaway’s sixth season in the league and with experience as right-wing for the Capitals last year, he will be a good possible candidate to fill the offensive gap.

(Caps Outsider)

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (6’ 2”, 191 lbs, 22 years old)
Another potential option for the Capitals is Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. The Swedish skater was recently loaned to Vastervik IK but is expected to return to D.C after training camp for the upcoming season according to NHL.com.

Since being selected 147th overall in the NHL Draft back in 2016 by the Capitals, Jonsson-Fjallby has played both in his home country and with AHL affiliate Hershey Bears. In his first season with the Bears in 2018, Jonsson-Fjallby recorded 2 goals and 1 assist, but improved significantly last year, notching 23 points from 12 goals and 11 assists. It is this trend that could potentially see him break the Capitals roster this upcoming season.

If Jonsson-Fjallby does make it into the fourth line, his stat line will certainly be unpredictable. However, there is reason to be confident as he would receive mentorship from fellow left-wing Ovechkin which will certainly foster his growth.

Overall there are plenty of reasons for Capitals fans to anticipate success at the left-wing position this upcoming season. I expect to see more production as these players have great potential to improve and generate the offensive production that was lacking in the first round of the playoffs. Under new coach Laviolette, the Capitals left-wing area is in good shape ahead of the 2020-2021 season.