Photo: The great Clydeorama
The Capitals are stocked with three excellent defenders in John Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Mike Green. Each brings something to the veritable table: Carlson has an offensive upside, Mike Green is a power play maestro, and the stay-at-home Karl Alzner is threatening to crack a 2.5% shooting percentage any day now.
You can pair those three any way you want, but it is still unclear who else among the other Caps D-men is up to the job of playing in the top four. Here’s a lovely chart from Greg Sinclair that illustrate’s how Caps D were used and how they performed last season:
Poti and Schultz are gone– one to free agency and the other to buyout. Dmitry Orlov had a setback season due to injury and has yet to show the offensive flash I hoped for. Kundratek seemed to me a bit outpaced by NHL hockey, and John Erskine is tough as leather but not quite as dynamic as the second pairing requires.
That leaves Steve Oleksy, a pugnacious 27-year-old fan favorite, and Jack Hillen, the quiet pro who missed most of last season due to injury. Both are unlikely to be mainstays on the blueline’s top four, but both did just fine last season all things considered. Seems to me — and NHL.com’s Adam Vingan as well (whaaaaaaaaaa)– that the Caps will look to one of these two to take big minutes this season. And if that doesn’t work out, GMGM’s gonna be making some phone calls.