NHL

Washington Capitals All-Decade Team

Nick Jehamy | January 16th, 2020

We have hit 2020 and with the turn of the new decade, we here at The Scorecrow are putting together our All-Decade teams for each franchise. So who made the All-Decade team for the Washington Capitals? Let’s take a look.

The All-Decade team consists of a full team of skaters; four forward lines, three defensive lines, and two goaltenders. My criteria for choosing who made the team is a mixture of historical significance and statistical performance.

*The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018

Forwards

First Line

The first line for the Washington Capitals consists of players that can be considered for the NHL 2010s decade team.

Nicklas Backstrom, Center, 2008-Present

Not much justification needed here. Backstrom’s place in the all-time Capitals leaderboard stands at fifth in games played, fourth in goals, first in assists, and second in points. His assists numbers are also fourth among all active players in the league. Throughout the decade Backstrom has produced at least 50 assists and 70 points all but two seasons. He is one of the great centers in the game today!

Alex Ovechkin, Left Wing, 2006-Present

He is first in games played, goals, and points for the Capitals all-time, as well as second in assists only behind Backstrom. Ovechkin is one of the league’s greats and undeniably the greatest Capital of all-time. Any “best of” Capitals or NHL list is incomplete without Ovechkin.

T.J. Oshie, Right Wing, 2016-Present

Oshie has not been with the franchise as long as the other two on the first line, but he has solidified himself as a household name with the Capitals. Oshie is a playoff scoring machine with a scoring percentage greater than his career average as well as points per game number almost at 0.85 which is exceptional for it being under the pressure of the post-season, especially compared to his mediocre play before the Capitals with the St. Louis Blues.

Second Line

Like the first line, the second line consists of skaters all still on the Capitals roster.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Center, 2013-Present

Kuznetsov may get a little overshadowed by Backstrom, but his skill set and level of play are very close to that of our first liner. Three seasons with 50+ assists, Kuznetsov has been an electric playmaker for the Capitals over the last few seasons. If anything else, Kuznetsov’s play during the playoff run to the franchise’s 2018 Stanley Cup victory cements his name here on this list. Kuznetsov led the team in assists and points producing 12 goals, 20 assists, and 32 points through the 24 games played.

Jakub Vrana, Left Wing, 2016-Present

Vrana is young but he has brought a great level of depth to the Capitals and is now a solid play on the Capitals second line. Some may think this is a stretch but he is dynamic around the goal and was a part of the Stanley Cup winning team where he was a solid contributor for the team.  Through 220 games he has 118 points and a shooting percentage that has jumped 6% over the last two years. There are other players who may have better longevity but Vrana has been impactful in his short time with the franchise and is one of the young guys to watch going forward as well.

Tom Wilson, Right Wing, 2012-Present

Wilson is a skater has adapted his playstyle throughout the decade. He didn’t start out as a big numbers guy as he was more of a physical two-way forward who utilized the physicality as an asset to help the team. He has transitioned more into an offensive skill player which can be seen during the Capitals run for the Stanley Cup where he had a career-high in playoff goals and assists as well as transitioning that play into the regular season.

Third Line

Marcus Johansson, Center, 2010-2017

Johansson played for the Capitals for more than half the decade and was a man of consistency. Aside from the one shortened season, Johansson produced 40 points in all but his rookie season with the Capitals. Johansson produced 290 points over the decade for the Capitals as well as 30 in the playoffs.

Andre Burakovsky, Left Wing, 2014-2019

I gave Vrana the edge for his help in the Stanley Cup playoff run and impact on the franchise as a young asset going forward but Burakovsky is really not far behind. Burakovsky has been another skater of consistency for the Capitals this past decade like Johansson (just at a lesser level). He produced double-digit goals and assists in all five seasons for the Capitals, his playoff stat line though was not good enough to give him the push over the young Vrana.

Troy Brouwer, Right Wing, 2011-2015

Brouwer’s four seasons with the Capitals consisted of two 33 point seasons and two 43 point seasons. Brouwer was not only a solid offensive asset but he played well on the defensive end of the ice as well, having some of his best career seasons in blocks, hits, and takeaways.

Fourth Line

Lars Eller, Center, 2016-Present

Eller steals the last center spot on our list. Playing mostly on the third line you’d think it is more of a low depth player just kind of filling out a spot here at a weak position but that is not the case. Eller was the heart of a third line that was to be scared of and when injury afflicted one of the top two Eller played up and meshed into the higher lines with ease. Part of the Cup winning team, Eller has been an integral part of the Capitals even on the lower line.

Alexander Semin, Left Wing, 2003-2012

I would love to put Semin higher on this list, but with very little time played within the decade, I just couldn’t do it. His play in that short time though was good enough to get him on the list. Finished off his best-ever season at the start of the decade where he put up 84 points on 40 goals and 40 assists. He then went on to give the Capitals back-to-back 54 point seasons before leaving the team and his play falling off from what it was.

Brett Connolly, Right Wing, 2016-2019

This last spot was the hardest to fill. Connoly will take the final spot here based on the best per season average numbers out of the few that were up for the last right winger on our all-decade team and was a part of the Cup winning team in 2018.


Defenseman

First Line

John Carlson, 2010-Present

His name has been said a lot this year as he is on pace for a career season and the lead runner to win the Norris trophy at the start of the new decade. Carlson played more games than anyone other than Ovechkin for the Capitals over the decade and is a vital part of the roster with his scoring ability, defensive command, penalty killing prowess, and power play abilities. Carlson is easily in contention for one of the best overall defenders of the decade with his play and accolades.

Karl Alzner, 2008-2017

This second one can be debatable to some but Alzner has played in every game that he was on the Capitals for the decade. Only fitting to put him on the front line with his running mate Carlson, Alzner played all 82 in every season from 2010 onward till he went to Montreal. Alzner ended the decade for the Capitals with a plus-minus of 64 and 107 points produced.

Second Line

Matt Niskanen, 2014-2019

Niskanen in some eyes should be on the first line along with Carlson. Niskanen was on the Cup winning team and racked up 127 assists, 579 blocks, and 731 hits in his five years playing with the Capitals. Out of the four teams he’s played for his tenure with the Capitals was the best of his career to date.

Dmitry Orlov, 2011-Present

Orlov has been a staple in the Capitals lineup since 2011. After coming back from an injury early in his career he has been a man of consistency and reliability for the Capitals, playing in every game the last four and a half years and producing 20 assists, 120 hits, and 30 takeaways (50 in each of the last two) along that span as well.

Third Line

Mike Green, 2005-2015

Green was dominant for the Capitals in the 2000s but his play diminished through the last decade aside from his last season with the team which was the best of the decade. Even with the diminished play, he was a solid reliance on depth and experience to help the franchise out when he was healthy.

Brooks Orpik, 2014-Present

Orpik was not a numbers guy. If you look at his statistics alone you’d question this pick strongly. Orpik is here for the impact he had on the team as a leader. He was extremely beloved and influential to the Capitals during his five-year stint with the franchise where on the ice he brought his strong physical play day in and day out.


Goaltenders

Braden Holtby, 2010-Present

Holtby has the second most games played and wins by a goaltender in franchise history, and the most by any goaltender this decade. Holtby has been part of the Capitals for the entire decade and is the clear cut choice as the top goaltender of the decade with 275 wins.

Philipp Grubauer, 2012-2018

Over the last decade for the Capitals, out of all goaltenders with at least 20 games played Grubauer has the lowest GAA (2.29), highest save percentage (.923), and best quality start percentage.


Honorable Mentions

Here are a few honorable mentions of players at each position group that just missed out on making the Capitals All-Decade team.

Michal Neuvirth, Goaltender, 2008-2014

Jay Beagle, Right Wing, 2008-2018

Tom Poti, Defenseman, 2007-2013

The goaltenders and defenseman on our all-decade team were no brainers, the issue was figuring out who deserved to be on what line. The biggest battle was the last spot at right wing which I gave to Connolly. Jay Beagle was just barely edged out for that final spot. Beagle played a majority of the decade with the Capitals and was also on the Cup winning team which was his last season with them, but his overall numbers were mediocre so I decided to take a leap and give it to Connolly.

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Main Image Credit:  Embed from Getty Images

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