USA TODAY Sports asked NHL players to sketch their team logos at NHL/NHLPA media tour in New York on Sept. 7. Here are the results.
USA TODAY Sports
Every hockey fan in Washington owns a theory about why the talented Capitals haven’t won a Stanley Cup and somehow goalie Braden Holtby has managed to sum them all up in 12 words.
“We are still working on getting that comfort level in uncomfortable situations,” Holtby told USA TODAY Sports.
Holtby’s succinct summation seems particularly important during this training camp because the Capitals, despite leading the NHL in points for the second season in a row, were forced into a roster shakeup because of salary cap concerns.
With the Capitals saying goodbye to veterans Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams, Karl Alzner and Nate Schmidt, it’s easy to project them taking a half-step backwards this season. But Holtby doesn’t see it that way.
“I think we are all excited by this challenge,” Holtby said. “There was a lot of frustration and disappointment from last year, and if we channel it the right way, we can create something great. We have new energy coming up from the minors. Sometimes a little young blood helps.”
Johansson posted 58 points last season, and Williams was a 24-goal scorer. The Capitals are hoping that rugged forward Tom Wilson, 23, will claim a top-six forward job and take another step to become a 15-plus goal scorer. Likewise, they would expect more from Andrei Burakovsky, 22, who had 35 points in 64 games.
Devante Pelly-Smith is the only new veteran under contract, and the expectation is the third and fourth lines will have new looks.
“The more competition we have, the better it is for us,” Washington right wing T.J. Oshie said. “It’s better for our mental side of the game. There’s going to be guys who will need to prove they are where they need to be or that they should be playing more minutes. I think it will be exciting what level of competition will be brought out by this.”
The Capitals’ makeover would have been more painful if they hadn’t re-signed Oshie, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent. Oshie had 33 goals last season.
Oshie signed an eight-year, $46 million deal after it appeared the Capitals could lose him. Even though he will be 38 when the deal…