Every player, coach and executive who did not raise the Stanley Cup last season enters the new season with the goal of winning a championship.
For some, that task became more plausible. For example, the New York Rangers signed offensive-minded defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and the Carolina Hurricanes finally added a capable goalie, in Scott Darling.
But not everyone can say they got closer to the Cup. Some watched as their situations got worse, either by cap trouble, bad luck or poor decision making.
Let’s have a look at five teams, players or coaches who are in that latter group following the summer:
While the Caps will still be co-favorites to win the Metropolitan Division, they got worse this offseason by losing defensemen Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk, as well as forwards Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson.
The biggest strength of last year’s squad, which finished with an NHL-best 118 standings points and plus-81 goal differential, was their depth. Instead of relying on Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom for everything, the Caps had three dangerous scoring lines and three good defensive pairs. Now they will have to hope young players — long shots like Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly and depth center Lars Eller, whose career high is 30 points — can fill in some of the gap. And on defense, Washington still hasn’t added one blueliner, and they need to replace at least two.
The Capitals did sign T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Dmitry Orlov to long-term deals, but they didn’t gain anywhere near enough back to replace the holes left by players exiting in free agency and the expansion draft.