Friday, September 19, 2014

All Washington Awards Part One: Team Rankings

After returning from my long summer break, it's almost time to turn back to hockey.

But not just yet.

For the first time in I don't know how many years, Washington DC has some of the best teams in the country. Therefore, for the next few posts, I'll focus on ranking the DC teams and athletes based on how they will do this season/playoffs (for the Washington Nationals).

First up: the team rankings.

Disclaimer 1: I am a DC fan, not a Baltimore fan. So no Ravens or Orioles here.

Disclaimer 2: I am first and foremost a hockey fan and then a baseball, basketball, and football fan. I'll try not to let this swing my opinion, but it might.

Disclaimer 3: This is all subjective, and hard to rank among multiple sports.

The team rankings were based firstly on Overall Potential for the year, with Championship Title potential receiving 5 points, Conference Finals/Finals potential receiving 3, Division Champs/Long Playoff Run potential receiving 2, and Playoff Contenders receiving 1 point (none of the above = 0). They are then ranked best to worst on Depth and Coaching/Management in a 3 to 0 scale, and Age, aka if their window is just opening (2 pts.), in the middle and serious contenders (3 pts.), close to closing (1 pt.) and not at all there (0). So without further ado, here are the rankings.

Overall Potential:
  • Washington Nationals: 5. They are the class of the National League and are without a doubt World Series contenders right now.
  • Washington Wizards: 3. The Wizards are one of the Top-4 teams in the NBA Eastern Conference, and a conference finals run is a definite possibility after their run to Round 2 last year.
  • Washington Capitals: 2. There are no excuses for the Caps this year; with a strong offense, improved defense, and a great coach, there is no reason the Caps cannot win the division or make a run in the postseason; however, I don't know if a Conference Final run is possible with serious talent in their division and conference.
  • Washington Redskins: 0. No RGIII, a weak secondary, and a patchwork offensive line leads me to believe that the Redskins are at best second in the division, and not nearly strong enough to challenge the Philadelphia Eagles or for a Wild Card spot.
Depth:
  1. Washington Nationals. When Ryan Zimmerman has to sit on the bench, you know your team has great depth. Add a great pitching staff, and this is easily the deepest team in DC. (3 pts.)
  2. Washington Wizards. The Wiz edge out the Caps thanks to their savvy moves this offseason and the rise of Otto Porter as a legitimate starter. The Wizards are seen as one of the deepest teams in the NBA, and for this reason, they take the number two spot. (2)
  3. Washington Capitals. Yes, they have a very talented prospect pool, and the rise of Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov certainly makes a starting lineup hard to figure, but the Caps are still forced to rely heavily on Troy Brouwer, Jay Beagle, and Brooks Laich, all of whom are not quite the kind of people one wants in the roles they will probably have this year. (1)
  4. Washington Redskins. Other than maybe QB and Wide Receiver, no position seems to have a lot of depth. The Running Back position is strong and the Tight End position may be improving, but neither of those are legitimately Top-10 in the league. And don't even talk about the offensive line. Defensively, the linebackers are really the only deep position, with the DL a  few injuries away from a strength and the horrendous secondary that cannot get worse (0).
Management/Coaching:
  1. Washington Nationals. Come on, this isn't even a contest! Matt Williams has been fantastic in his first season as manager and Mike Rizzo is the best GM in the league. Easily number one. (3 pts.)
  2. Washington Capitals. I have high hopes for GMBM and Barry Trotz this year. Yes, they overpaid for Orpik and Niskanen, but right now this team is one of the most talented in the NHL. If Trotz lives up to his reputation, this is a solid management team. (2)
  3. One good year is not enough to completely change my decision about Randy Wittman and Ernie Grunfeld. They have done a great job this offseason, but I'm still not sure about them (1).
  4. Washington Redskins. I'm not even going to go into this. Snyder sucks, Bruce Allen is not that great, and Jay Gruden has not done good so far. (0)
Age:
  • Washington Nationals: 3. Definitely in the middle of their time as a solid contender. No question here.
  • Washington Wizards: 2. Their window is just opening, which is kind of scary, considering how talented this team is.
  • Washington Capitals: 1.5. I don't know what to think here. Their window isn't quite closing, but they're not solid contenders right now either. Eh, I'll put them somewhere in there.
  • Washington Redskins: 0. Seriously, these guys don't even have a window right now. There is a lot more work to be done.
Final Rankings:
  1. Washington Nationals (14 pts). No surprise, the Nats are easily the best team in DC right now.
  2. Washington Wizards (8). Thanks to their young talent and insane depth, the Wiz are just a few years away at most from being top-tier title contenders.
  3. Washington Capitals (7.5). The Caps fall behind the Wiz, but are still capable of being one of the best teams in DC.
  4. Washington Redskins (0). Yup, the Skins bottom out. With RGIII injured and no clear future, the Redskins are by far the worst team in DC right now.
So these are my rankings. What do you think? Tell me, and stay tuned for rankings and more here on Caps Circle.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Caps Circle Is Back!

After a (lengthy) summer vacation, Caps Circle is back, and just in time for the regular season!

Expect season picks and prognostos coming up in the next few days.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The WCMNT (Washington Capitals Men's National Team)

With the FIFA World Cup getting under way earlier this week, I began thinking: who would be on the Washington Capitals soccer team, regardless of what country they are actually from?

Here is my Starting XI, using a common 4-4-2 formation.

Goalkeeper: Braden Holtby. I'm not taking any creative liberties here. I don't know anyone on the team with better reflexes than Holtby, and he is easily the best choice for keeper.
Reserve: Phillip Grubauer

Left/Right Defensemen: Dmitri Orlov and John Carlson. All defensemen have to play defense, but wing defensemen also have the added element of helping out offensively once in a while. Orlov and Carlson would fit in well.
Reserve: Connor Carrick

Center Defensemen: Karl Alzner and Madison Bowey. Although Bowey hasn't played in the bigs yet, he gets the nod over the next best prospect Jack Hillen because of the injury concern. Center D-men have to be tough enough to outmuscle forwards and gel with their keeper, and I think Alzner and Bowey would do that job just fine.
Reserve: Jack Hillen

Left/Right Midfielders: Mike Green and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Both of these guys are fantastic passers and can also shoot if need be. They get beat out for the center midfield, however, because of the comparative lack in defensive prowess.
Reserve: Jason Chimera

Center Midfielders: Nicklas Backstrom and Mikhail Grabovski. Probably the best passers on the team, both will be instrumental in getting the ball to the strikers. They can also finish a shot if they need to, as well as help out on defense when necessary.
Reserve: Marcus Johansson

Strikers: Troy Brouwer and Alex Ovechkin. The best pure finishers on the team. Can you imagine the beauty of Kuznetsov passing the ball to Ovechkin who smashes it right in the net? Both Brouwer and Ovechkin are pure goal scorers who will be more than capable of stealing some wins for this team.
Reserve: Joel Ward

One more time, visualized:
Holtby

Orlov - Alzner - Bowey - Carlson

Kuznetsov - Backstrom - Grabovski - Green

Ovechkin - Brouwer

What do you think? Who would you put in your XI? Let me know and enjoy the World Cup taking your mind off of hockey (it's all over...)