Just like numerous years in the past, the Washington Capitals entered the season with very high expectations, and with good reason. During the offseason, the team made some big moves that included trading for ex-Blues winger, T.J Oshie and signing a former 3-time Stanley Cup Champion in Justin Williams. Both of these players were brought in to be big impact players and leaders on and off the ice. The Capitals also had Braden Holtby, one of the league's best, young goaltenders. Coming off of his best season it was likely Holtby would only get better. With these talented new players along with returning stars like Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom, the Caps looked primed to win their first Stanley Cup this season.
Season in review
The Capitals had one of the best seasons in franchise history in 2015-16. They finished with a league-high 120 points, good enough to capture the Presidents Trophy. They entered the playoffs hot and looked as if they were the best team in the NHL, by far. The Caps defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs and that is as far as they would get. In the second round. the Capitals were matched up against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Just like he had so many times before, Sidney Crosby once again got the better of Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals were eliminated in six games. The Capitals again entered the summer with a lot of soul searching to be made and no Stanley Cup championships won.
Best players this season
The best player for the Capitals this season was by far Braden Holtby. Holtby had his best season to date and is now the heavy favorite to take home the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie. During his MVP-caliber season, Holtby tied Martin Brodeur for most wins in a season by a goalie with 48. Holtby put up great numbers this season with 48 wins, a save percentage of .922, and allowing just 2.20 goals per game. Even though this season ended with a load of disappointment, if Holtby can even closely duplicate this season again for the 2016-17 year, the Capitals should have no problem making the playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup.
Another one of the Capitals best players comes without much surprise. Alex Ovechkin has been the captain of the Caps for many years now and is regarded as one of the best players in the NHL, and in 2015-16, he didn't disappoint. Ovechkin had 50 goals and 21 assists and a rating of +21. Ovechkin's best game came in a game mid-season against the Ottawa Senators in which he had 2 goals, including the 500th of his very decorated career. Next season if Ovechkin can continue his stellar play and the Capitals add a few more pieces, the Capitals will likely again be in contention to win the Cup.
Overall it was a solid year for the Capitals. It is hard to grade them though as they again had a terrific regular season and couldn't advance further in the playoffs. While the Capitals had an incredible regular season the playoff disappointment is still bad enough to give them a lower grade this season.
Final Grade: B+
The outlook for next season is incredibly bright. With a strong core of veterans mixed with young talent, the Capitals will likely compete for a Stanley Cup for the next number of years. While the Capitals still need to add a few more pieces this offseason, with a core like they have now they should be one of the NHL's premier teams again next season.