There were several things on general manager, George McPhee’s, to-do list this offseason:
1. Hire an offensive coach that could handle this bunch.
2. Have a successful draft.
3. Acquire a skilled, veteran center for the second-line.
4. Part ways with lackadaisical Alexander Semin.
5. Add more toughness and depth on defense.
6. Find a replacement for Semin.
If you’ve been following the Washington Capital’s every move this offseason you would know that most of these priorities have been addressed and accomplished. Some may be displeased about Alexander Semin’s departure or unhappy about Mike Green’s hefty contract, but such moves had to be done in order for the Caps to remain playoff contenders.
First, the offseason started off with the hiring of ex-NHL player Adam Oates. Oates, who once played for the Caps, played in the league for 19 years. As assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils, Oates was responsible the power play and played a vital role in helping the Russian star Ilya Kovalchuk develop a two-way game. Perhaps this treatment will carry over to another Russian star player; one named Alexander Ovechkin. Any one who is familiar with the name “Ovechkin” knows that he’s an offensive force. Though most Caps fans worship the ground Ovechkin walks on we are all aware that he is in quite a slump as of late and we would love to have him playing at his full potential. Oates is definitely a perfect candidate to make that a reality. With Oates behind the bench, you can almost guarantee a more offensive-minded team that doesn’t put all of their emphasis on dump and chase and blocking shots. Offensive players will have their time to shine while learning how to not negate their defensive responsibilities.
The 2012 NHL Draft is one that won’t be forgotten. It was probably the most successful draft for the Caps in the most recent years. Luckily for them, forward Filip Forsberg fell into their laps with the number 11th pick when he was predicted to be drafted in one of the top three. Capitals also snatched up Tom Wilson before the Flyers could get their hands on him. This guy will help erase the “finesse” image that the Caps have been portrayed as and add more of a physical, toughness aspect to the team. Recently, the Capitals solidified things with Forsberg as they signed him to an entry-level contract, which is huge.
McPhee then acquired Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars, which addressed the depleted second-line. With Ribeiro on this team, you can expect an average of 60+ points from the center as he’s been able to maintain that for the past eight years. Ribeiro will bring offensive creativeness to the team and add depth to the Cap’s power play, which was ranked 18th overall last season. If you are looking for Ribeiro to be wearing his usual No. 63 jersey you won’t find him. Now that he doesn’t play for the Stars, he can wear the number he grew up playing with; number nine.
Now, I saved the best for last.
The Washington Capitals finally parted ways with inconsistent and disappointing forward Alexander Semin. After playing his entire career with the Capitals, Semin signed with division foe Carolina Hurricanes. Playing seven years alongside Ovechkin, Semin racked up more than 70+ points three times in his career. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that much of an impact or stellar production from Semin in several years. Recognizing that, McPhee wasn’t going to shell out money to a player that flat out doesn’t play up to his potential the majority of the time. It became evident that it was time for Semin to change his scenery in hopes to spark up something with another team. He finally pulled the trigger and the Caps have to face-off with the powerhouse in Carolina who now has Jordan Staal and Semin.
In hindsight, if you really back on this offseason, McPhee accomplish more than most of us probably expected him to and there’s still some time left.