Sunday, September 5, 2021

Caps Preview: Alex Ovechkin Swatch Card

(team and product links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: I liked doing last year's format, so I'll be doing it the same way this season as well, partly because of that but also because as a father of a toddler and a baby, I just do not have enough time to write two separate posts per day on each blog. I'll copy these on each one instead. Like last year, the entire scope of the analysis will take place here and the player will have some sort of direct connection to what's written.

Caveats: At this point, despite training camp being set to start, several players haven't found a team yet, many RFAs haven't signed with their respective teams, and a few clubs are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

Key exits: Brenden Dillon (D), Craig Anderson (G), Michael Raffl (LW), Zdeno Chara (D)

Key Arrivals: Matt Irwin (D), xxx (LW), xxx (C/LW), xxx (C), xxx (LW), xxx (D), xxx (D), xxx (G)

Top prospects: Connor McMichael (C), Hendrix Lapierre (C), Martin Fehervary (D), Alexander Alexeyev (D), Vincent Iorio (D), Damien Riat (LW), Aliaksei Protas (C), Brent Johnson (D), Brett Leason (RW), Kody Clark (RW), Lucas Johansen (D)

Sure, the Washington Capitals' stars are all in their 30s, they have few top-tier prospects that have Toronto-based pundits salivating and have exited the playoffs early every year since their 2018 Stanley Cup win, but this nucleus remains rock-solid with the likes of Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Anthony Mantha, Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov. The goaltending position is also in good hands with Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek.

What makes their odds look good:
They can outscore the opposition like few teams can and have better goaltending than the Toronto Maple Leafs. If someone in the Atlantic can eliminate the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team from the Metropolitan Division could make it to the Cup Final.

Question marks: A lot of their firepower is tied into a handful of players, who account for a lot of the team's cap space. There are depth issues, and any injury troubles would mean a huge drop in the standings for the Caps.

This team hired Peter Laviolette as head coach because it is still hungry for a Cup. Regular-season seeding doesn't have to matter much, the postseason is how this team will be judged, now and forever.

Third in the Metropolitan Division.

Fresh off a five-year deal that will realistically lead him to breaking Wayne Gretzky's career goals record, Ovechkin is a man on (another) mission. And while the chase for Gretzky's goals record is huge in itself, Ovie is also chasing Sidney Crosby's two undeserved Conn Smythes, a gimme from a handful of Toronto-based journalists who didn't want to give Phil Kessel his due. Should Ovechkin get a second one, it might even force the Hall Of Fame to waive its three-year waiting period to get him in.

Here he is wearing the team's dreadful red (home) Reebok Edge uniform from a few years back, on the swatch version of card #73 from Panini's 2010-11 Luxury Suite collection:
It features a white game-worn jersey swatch. I got this one on Ebay for just over five bucks; its usual book value is closer to $40-50.

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