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Next season’s Capitals will need pop from young guns. But how much bang can they provide?

June 1st, 2017 at 1:21 PM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

Jakub Vrana figures to have a full-time role in Washington next season. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

The Washington Capitals had the NHL’s fourth-oldest roster this past season with an average age of 28.6 years old. With salary cap constraints looming this summer, General Manager Brian MacLellan expects the team to have a more youthful look next season.

MacLellan’s priority for the offseason is to re-sign the team’s six restricted free agents, hopeful that those young players are ready to take on more responsibility. The team’s top unrestricted free agent priority is 30-year-old forward T.J. Oshie, and while there’s mutual interest to get a deal done to keep Oshie in Washington, MacLellan said it could depend on if the salary cap ceiling is raised next season.

With money tight, the Capitals are limited in their options to fill the holes left by expected free-agent departures. MacLellan said they’ll have to lean on their prospects to step into more full-time NHL roles, particularly in the team’s bottom-six forward corps and also on the third pairing of the defense. The Pittsburgh Penguins are an example of how a team can succeed with energetic, speedy youth surrounding star veterans, but the infusion of unproven pieces adds a layer of unpredictability to Washington’s roster.

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Tags: NHL

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