In the live it used to be Carter Verhaeghe, and no longer Jonathan Huberdeau or Aleksander Barkov, that the Washington Capitals didn’t luxuriate in an retort for of their First Round playoff series.

When he scored two minutes into time past law of Sport 6 on Friday night time, sending the Florida Panthers to the Second Round for the first time in 26 years, it additionally despatched the Washington Capitals to their fourth consecutive First Round exit.

It’s no doubt a disappointing live for Washington, no longer easiest due to it’s a crew that is one more 365 days older and nearer to the live of its speed than the origin, but additionally due to it used to be a series where it had a lot of alternatives to come to a decision. The Capitals didn’t score speed out of the building by the Presidents’ Trophy winning Panthers, and it used to be in no plan the one-sided mismatch many anticipated it to be at the birth. They largely kept the Panthers in test and had leads (together with a 3-purpose lead!) in each of the last three games of the series (all losses).

That, mixed with the truth they luxuriate in no longer evolved within the playoffs since winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, is going to result in a lot of questions this offseason about what this crew is and where it would possibly well calm disappear.

Let’s strive to form out about a of those questions now.

Upright how honest is that this crew as at this time constructed?

The Capitals are clearly no longer where they luxuriate in been back in 2016, 2017, and 2018 when they luxuriate in been either winning the Presidents’ Trophy or the Stanley Cup every season. But they’re calm honest.

They’ll even simply luxuriate in been the eighth playoff crew within the East, but they calm carried out with 100 procedure in a very bright division. They additionally purchased there while Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Anthony Mantha (literally half of their top-six forwards) each uncared for half of the season as a result of varied accidents. That additionally would no longer embody the five games they played with out Tom Wilson within the playoffs.

They additionally spent the 365 days getting moderate at good goaltending from Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov as the duo carried out 16th in 5-on-5 save percentage and 23rd in all eventualities. They luxuriate in been regarded as one of honest three teams to invent below 18th in all eventualities save percentage to in point of truth compose the playoffs (Los Angeles at 19th, Toronto at 22nd, and the Capitals at 23rd), while no playoff crew used to be lower than them. So even getting there with that diploma of goaltending is an accomplishment in itself.

Sadly, that space didn’t score considerable better within the playoffs.

There are a lot of flaws there, however the implications luxuriate in been calm reasonably honest. And that makes it easy to score sucked into the realization that better effectively being and better goaltending would possibly well well make better outcomes.

They need to discover a goalie

The Capitals luxuriate in outdated the Samsonov-Vanecek duo for two years now, ending 19th and 23rd respectively in all-eventualities save percentage and no longer being shut to honest ample within the playoffs.

That is an topic.

Also an topic is the truth none of their goalies are at this time below contract for subsequent season (they’re each restricted free brokers). Is there one thing else that can well simply calm compose you judge they can even simply calm compose a vital funding in either of them? Or that a “demonstrate it” contract will result in a unfamiliar ?

If the Capitals calm luxuriate in sights advise on severely competing this space has to score better. A snappily gape on the prospective free agent alternate choices reveals Darcy Kuemper and Jack Campbell as pending UFAs. Kuemper shall be costly and invent no longer luxuriate in any scarcity of suitors if he hits the originate market. Marc-Andre Fleury is additionally advise to be accessible, but him playing in Washington would no longer seem to be within the playing cards.

In the live the Capitals purchased about a of the worst goaltending of any playoff crew within the NHL this season and no topic what else occurs with the comfort of your crew that can also be bright to overcome. Is it the good dispute in Washington? That is never any doubt arguable. But it shall be the quickest fix.

Will each person be back?

Other than the goaltending ask, the Capitals luxuriate in just a few pending UFA’s on protection (Justin Schultz, Michal Kempny, Matt Irwin) and calm want some enhancements.

They invent no longer luxuriate in a lot of salary cap dwelling to play with due to they luxuriate in some vital contracts on their books.

Alex Ovechkin is no longer going anywhere. Unless Nicklas Backstrom decides to scuttle away and retire he’s no longer going anywhere.

Evgeny Kuznetsov spent many of the 2021 offseason on the exchange rumor mill, so it’s worth pondering if the Capitals would stumble on that possibility every other time. But he additionally had a astronomical bounce back 365 days and used to be their good center this season. Trading him now appears to be like counterproductive.

Anthony Mantha has a vital contract amount and has no longer barely been what anticipated in Washington, but a lot of that has been as a result of a lack of availability. When wholesome I calm judge he’s in total a in point of truth honest participant here and one which will finally be worth his cap amount (and the worth they paid to exchange him).

Two names that wants to be in play? Oshie and Lars Eller. Oshie has been an very honest appropriate Capital, but I invent no longer know that he’s going to age as effectively as avid gamers esteem Ovechkin, Backstrom, or Kuznetsov, and at a $5.75 million cap amount for one more three years, that can well well also be one you strive to score out of.

Eller is animated due to his cap amount is comely, he can calm play his role reasonably considerable, and the Capitals would possibly well well exhaust an further $3 million to play with. There would possibly be additionally the truth Connor McMichael wants a a lot bigger role and calm easiest costs $863,000 against the cap for the next two seasons. You lose four years in a row you would possibly well well perchance need to ask some changes, especially within the event you proceed to luxuriate in holes to receive.

The Capitals luxuriate in been shut to the quit of the NHL for a decade-and-a-half and been regarded as one of the most league’s elite teams. If you are on top that long, and luxuriate in a core that is getting onto the assorted aspect of their 30s, it’s inevitable that a decline will come. That decline has positively began to come. But it’s no longer but a cliff dive and it’s certain this crew can calm be a playoff crew, and a reasonably honest one. A fats-blown rebuild will need to happen in time, but that time is no longer here but. But some changes calm can luxuriate in to be made within the event that they’ll be greater than a crew that simply gets to the playoffs with out being ready to invent one thing else after they score there.

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Adam Gretz is a creator for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or adjust to him on Twitter @AGretz.

Capitals luxuriate in some gigantic questions after fourth straight First Round exit before all the pieces regarded on NBCSports.com

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