As the Stanley Cup Final continues with the Colorado Avalanche looking to move within one win of their first Stanley Cup since 2001 as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena, the Washington Capitals and rest of the NHL are planning ahead for a busy summer.
The Capitals now face a plethora of decisions with Nicklas Backstrom undergoing potentially career-ending left hip resurfacing surgery, Alex Alexeyev undergoing a surgical labral repair on his left shoulder and Tom Wilson out long-term as he recovers from ACL surgery.
Once free agency opens on July 13, expect teams to get to work — Washington included.
Here are the latest news and notes from D.C. and across the NHL:
- Amid Backstrom’s career-changing surgery and other circumstances, the Capitals’ offseason agenda has changed. Here are four Washington must make four key decisions in NHL free agency and over the course of the summer.
- Defenseman Martin Fehervary began training for his sophomore NHL campaign and met fellow Brataslavan — and NHL legend — Peter Stastny. (NoVa Caps)
- Matt Irwin didn’t get much playing time in 2021-22, but he still made his impact felt in Washington. (WHN)
- With the Sergei Bobrovsky trade talk continuing for the Florida Panthers, Spencer Knight appears to be next in line for the starting job. Is he ready? (FHN)
- Former Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky had three points in two games — including an impressive OT winner in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final — before going down with an apparent hand injury. Here’s the latest on No. 95, who didn’t travel with the Colorado Avalanche. (CHN)
- One notable name on the free-agent market: Andrei Kuzmenko. And, apparently, the New York Islanders and Ilya Sorokin are pulling out all the stops to get the talented winger to the Island.
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Home ice advantage is fun — the noise, last change, etc. However, given Colorado’s firepower — and the fact that the Avalanche have appeared to figure out Andrei Vasilevskiy, I wouldn’t be surprised if home-ice advantage doesn’t make too much of a difference. Still, the Bolts know how to win and have been in these situations before, and anything can happen. That’s the beauty of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, after all.
- Kuzmenko is an interesting name – good goal scorer, strong middle-6 winger hailing from the KHL. It would be interesting if the Capitals were among those interested in him. However, per The Athletic’s Rick Dhaliwal, he has already had a couple of meetings with Vancouver and taking that into account, the Canucks may be the frontrunner.
- Valeri Nichushkin is the player to watch for Game 3. He has four goals in his last four games and struck twice in Game 2, and he has 13 points in 16 games this postseason. It has been eye-opening to see how a change of scenery has helped the offensive side of his game. He’s obviously a top UFA target — and the right wing is also earning himself quite the pay raise.