The top talent in this year’s free agent crop, New Jersey forward Zach Parise and Nashville blueliner Ryan Suter , will likely cost too much for too long to be seriously considered, which means the Capitals will have to wade a little deeper into the talent pool to find the missing pieces needed for a serious Cup run.
Over the past three years, the Coyotes saw 53 percent of even-strength shots at net – goals, saved, missed and blocked – in their favor with Doan on the ice but broke even with their captain on the bench. Over that same time frame, Phoenix gave up 12 more shots against per 60 minutes on the penalty kill when Doan was off the ice compared to on. He improved the power play as well, which saw over six shots more per 60 minutes when he skated than when he didn’t.
Here is a dark horse candidate for a top six forward slot: Mikael Samuelsson . He plays a solid game in all three zones, averaged 15:57 of ice time over 48 games this season and posted 28 points (13 G, 15 A), with six of those goals delivered during the man advantage. He faced off against some of the opposition’s toughest competition yet still managed to tilt the ice in his favor (5.4 Corsi relative to his teammates). Plus, he can play the point on the power play, freeing up Ovechkin from those duties. His durability may be an issue, but his cap hit of just $2.5 million the last three years could make him an affordable risk with tremendous upside.
Greg Zanon , on the other hand, would provide a physical presence on the blue line at a decent cost, as stay-at-home defensemen are typically undervalued in terms of contract dollars. Zanon was credited with 116 hits and 136 blocked shots over 56 games split between Minnesota and Boston during the 2011-12 season.
The departure of Dennis Wideman opens up a slot for a right-handed defenseman, making Michal Rozsival an intriguing option. He was one of Phoenix’s more reliable blueliners in both the regular season and during the playoffs. He averaged more than 19 minutes of ice time per game, which included 1:53 on the penalty kill. The majority of his shifts started in the defensive zone but he still managed to have a positive puck possession metric (2.8 Corsi relative to his teammates). He wasn’t playing against top competition, but as a 4/5 defenseman for the Capitals, he wouldn’t have to.
Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg
More from Post Sports