The Washington Capitals are home watching the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Again. The Caps were bounced in the second round. Again. They came up short against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Again. You get where I’m going with this, right? Once again, despite having a great regular season and a loaded roster that many felt should have been deep enough to bring a Stanley Cup championship to the nation’s capitol, Alex Ovechkin and company fell short. Throughout his career, Ovi has never been able to get the Caps past the second round of the playoffs. Between that fact, as well as the statistic that he posted just 33 goals – his lowest in six seasons – and the fact that he is now 31-years-old, is it time for the Capitals to trade Ovechkin and look to retool for a future run at the Cup?
Whatever side of the fence you happen to fall on in this discussion, it would make sense for Washington to at least consider the possibility. While it does appear that Ovechkin played injured in the postseason, the fact of the matter is that he underwhelmed once again. Add to the equation that head coach Barry Trotz actually seemed to prefer Ovi on the team’s bench in the third quarter of an elimination game against the Pens, and one has to wonder if it is time for the face of the franchise since 2004 to move on and continue his career elsewhere.
One could argue that despite another early exit from the playoffs, the Capitals are still just one player away from winning the Cup. Well, wasn’t that player Kevin Shattenkirk, acquired near the NHL Trade Deadline this past winter? Wasn’t he supposed to make the difference? The bottom line is that Washington’s key acquisition was not enough, and the team will now have to face a free agency period in which many forwards will be hitting the market, with the Caps simply not having enough money to pay them all.
On the flip side, one could also argue that this is the NHL. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, all you have to do is qualify, and then anything can happen. From No. 8 seeds winning it all, to President’s Trophy winners getting bounced in the first round. If you get in, then you can win. The Caps could go into next season, remain more-or-less status quo, and hope to get hot at the right time. After all, this is still an extremely talented team.
Of course, if you take that option, you risk Ovechkin slipping even further, and likely lose out entirely on trading him, or at least see a return package dwindle by the prospect. If you keep him, then you have to surround him with even more talent, as it is simply not working as things stand now. That cost will not come cheaply. If you trade him, you risk alienating fans, at least at the beginning of the rebuilding process. Can you afford that either?
It appears as if the Capitals will face yet another intriguing offseason with plenty of question marks. What do you think the team should do when it comes to the face of their franchise? Even if that face may never help the team reach the Eastern Conference Finals, let alone, the Stanley Cup Finals?