2011 NHL preview

Washington Capitals roster

First line

Alex Ovechkin

LEFT WING, NO. 8, AGE 26

Height: 6-3. Weight: 230. Years: 6.

After recording career lows in goals and points, the ebullient Ovechkin looks to spark a personal rebound year and, more important, lead Washington in a crucial year for its core.

Nicklas Backstrom

CENTER, NO. 19, AGE 23

Height: 6-1. Weight: 213. Years: 4.

The franchise center is due for a bounce-back campaign posting career lows in assists and points. He may see more time without Ovechkin as the Capitals try to create two balanced scoring lines.

Mike Knuble

RIGHT WING, NO. 22, AGE 39

Height: 6-3. Weight: 229. Years: 14.

The veteran is no longer guaranteed a spot on the top unit, but if he can find a way to contribute without high-profile linemates, he'll be on his way to a ninth straight 20-goal NHL season.

Second line

Troy Brouwer

LEFT WING, NO. 20, AGE 26

Height: 6-3. Weight: 213. Years: 5.

Fifth in hits in league last season with 262, he should add a physical edge to any line. His experience as a Stanley Cup winner with the Blackhawks could prove invaluable.

Marcus Johansson

CENTER, NO. 90, AGE 21

Height: 6-1. Weight: 205. Years: 1.

The 2009 first-round pick established himself in the North American game in the second half of his rookie season and should see more time on the power play and penalty kill.

Alexander Semin

RIGHT WING, NO. 28, AGE 27

Height: 6-2. Weight: 209. Years: 6.

His level of dedication was questioned by former teammates during the offseason, but team brass insists the dynamic Russian winger has returned to Washington refocused.

Third line

Jason Chimera

LEFT WING, NO. 25, AGE 32

Height: 6-3. Weight: 213. Years: 10.

His unparalleled speed makes him an asset on the third or fourth line, but he'll need to contribute on the scoresheet more consistently to ensure he remains in the lineup.

Brooks Laich

CENTER, NO. 21, AGE 28

Height: 6-2. Weight: 210. Years: 7.

The veteran's role as the team's Swiss Army knife of a forward likely won't change even with the influx of new faces. He'll fill any number of spots over the course of the season.

Joel Ward

RIGHT WING, NO. 42, AGE 30

Height: 6-1. Weight: 226. Years: 4.

A standout in the playoffs for Nashville last season, he should help establish an aggressive forecheck as another big body who, like Mike Knuble, is capable of crashing the net.

Fourth line

Matt Hendricks

LEFT WING, NO. 26, AGE 30

Height: 6-0. Weight: 211. Years: 3.

A feisty presence on the ice, he became an integral character in the dressing room last season. This year, he'll be charged with creating more offense in addition to dropping the gloves.

Jeff Halpern

CENTER, NO. 15, AGE 35

Height: 6-0. Weight: 200. Years: 11.

The former Capitals captain returns for a second stint with his hometown team and will take on the bulk of the high-pressure faceoff duties. He should also inject some offense into the fourth line.

Jay Beagle

RIGHT WING, NO. 83, AGE 25

Height: 6-3. Weight: 215. Years: 3.

Searching for his first full NHL season after appearing in a career-high 31 games last year, he could fill the role vacated by departed free agent Matt Bradley if he establishes a more physical presence.

First defensive pairing

John Carlson

NO. 74, AGE 21

Height: 6-3. Weight: 212. Years: 2.

Established himself as half of the Capitals' shutdown pairing during his rookie season after playing 22 games in 2009-10. He should benefit from a deep, experienced blue line around him.

Karl Alzner

NO. 27, AGE 23

Height: 6-3. Weight: 213. Years: 3.

A steady presence during his first full NHL season, he's a traditional stay-at-home blue-liner but hopes to chip in more offensively this season by being willing to shoot more often.

Second defensive pairing

Mike Green

NO. 52, AGE 25

Height: 6-1. Weight: 207. Years: 6.

Limited to just 49 regular season games in 2010-11, he looks to make up for lost time while in the final year of his contract. Will he continue to develop into more of a two-way player?

Roman Hamrlik

NO. 44, AGE 37

Height: 6-2. Weight: 206. Years: 18.

The free agent pickup boasts 1,311 games of NHL experience and brings stability to the blue line. A left-handed-shooting defenseman, he will be a welcome presence on the power play.

Third defensive pairing

Jeff Schultz

NO. 55, AGE 25

Height: 6-6. Weight: 230. Years: 5.

He'll compete for playing time, but what could help him is if he can re-establish chemistry with Green to become the two-time Norris Trophy candidate's regular partner.

Dennis Wideman

NO. 6, AGE 28

Height: 6-0. Weight: 200. Years: 6.

He's fully recovered from the leg hematoma that kept him out of the playoffs. Accustomed to playing more than 20 minutes per game, he will compete for ice time.


Goaltenders

Tomas Vokoun

NO. 29, AGE 35

Height: 6-1. Weight: 210. Years: 13.

He is tied for the best save percentage in the six years since the NHL lockout and is expected to carry the bulk of the responsibilities in net. Playing for a contender for the first time in his career.

Michal Neuvirth

NO. 30, AGE 23

Height: 6-1. Weight: 209. Years: 3.

He won the role of No. 1 goaltender last season and started all nine games in the playoffs. He is determined to earn more than a pure backup role despite the addition of Vokoun.

Others

Mathieu Perreault

CENTER, NO. 85, AGE 23

Height: 5-10. Weight: 185. Years: 2.

Set career highs in games played (35), goals, assists and points last season, but struggles to maintain a consistent level of play, which has prevented him from sticking in the NHL.

D.J. King

LEFT WING, NO. 17, AGE 27

Height: 6-3. Weight: 231. Years: 5.

The only bona fide heavyweight on the roster played in just 16 games last season and would like to increase his appearances in the final year of his contract.


John Erskine

DEFENSEMAN, NO. 4, AGE 31

Height: 6-4. Weight: 220. Years: 9.

Did not appear in the preseason and will not be ready for the opener as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery, which puts him at a disadvantage on a stacked depth chart.

By Katie Carrera - The Washington Post. Published Oct. 6, 2011.