Friday, January 29, 2021

All-Time Teams: Capitals

It's the final weekend of The Collector's All-Time Teams series. Today's team posted the worst single-season record in NHL history as an expansion franchise in 1974-75. Here's the all-time roster for the Washington Capitals:

The Capitals ended decades of playoff frustration with their Stanley Cup victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018. Washington was swept by the Detroit Red Wings in their first trip to the finals 20 years earlier.


1st Line

Left Wing - Alex Ovechkin An all-time great sniper who remains the league's most prolific goal scorer into his mid-30s, Alex Ovechkin has held at least a share of the goal-scoring title in seven of the past eight seasons. The "Great Eight" is number eight on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list and his goals per game average is the sixth-best in league history. The captain of the Capitals' championship team in 2018, Ovechkin leads the franchise in games played, goals, points, and point shares.

- Nicklas Backstrom The fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft, Nicklas Backstrom has spent his entire 14-year career in D.C. He leads all Capitals in assists and plus/minus rating, and his 937 points are second to Alex Ovechkin in franchise history. A prolific playmaker, Backstrom has registered 60 or more assists in a season five times including a league-leading 60 helpers in 2014-15. He ranks third in Caps' annals with 98.1 point shares and 964 games played.

Right Wing - Peter Bondra The second-leading goal scorer in Capitals history, Peter Bondra put up some "Cy Young" seasons in the 1990s. In the lockout-shortened 1994-95 campaign the Slovak sniper led the league with 34 goals and tallied just 9 assists. He won another goal-scoring title in 1997-98 with 52 goals accounting for two thirds of his 78 points. The franchise leader in short-handed goals, Bondra trails only Ovechkin on the Caps' all-time list for power play goals, game-winning goals, and offensive point shares.

2nd Line

Left Wing - Alexander Semin The second of Washington's three first-round picks in 2002, Alexander Semin is sixth in Capitals history with 197 goals. A three-time 30-goal scorer, Semin ranks eighth on the Caps' all-time list with 0.42 goals per game, fifth in offensive point shares with 42.8, and fifth in even-strength goals with 139.

- Adam Oates Washington's all-time leader in assists per game, Hall of Famer Adam Oates is eighth on the NHL's all-time assists list with 1,079. In just five full seasons with the Capitals Oates dished out 290 helpers - the 12th most in team history. His 387 games played for the Caps are the most of his seven NHL stops, though he was more productive in Boston. Dennis Maruk scored more points in fewer games with Washington - in a more offense-friendly era. I'll be honest, I'm going with Oates here mainly because he's too high-profile a player for a "best of the rest" roster.

Right Wing - Mike Gartner The Capitals' third-leading goal-scorer, Hall of Famer Mike Gartner is seventh in NHL history with 708 goals - though Alex Ovechkin is poised to pass him as soon as he clears Covid protocol. The seven-time All-Star ranks fourth among Capitals in assists with 392 and points with 789. Gartner never finished a season higher than fifth in the NHL in goal scoring despite his career total. He missed out on winning a Stanley Cup when the Rangers traded him to Toronto in March of 1994.


3rd Line

Left Wing
- Evgeny Kuznetsov The third of five Russian players on this roster, Evgeny Kuznetsov already ranks tenth among Capitals forwards with 271 assists and 191 even-strength helpers. The leading postseason scorer with 32 points in 2018, "Kuzy" has piled up more points in under 500 games for the franchise than all but three players. Washington is deep at his natural center position so we'll move him to the (all-Russian) left side for this roster.

- Mike Ridley One reason why Kuznetsov has to play out of position is the presence of Mike Ridley, the fifth-leading goal-scorer in Capitals history and one of four centers among the Capitals' top eight point producers. Ridley's 0.93 points per game average ranks tenth in team history and only six Caps have scored more even-strength goals. His 17 short-handed markers are tied for second in Washington annals with the next player on this line.

Right Wing - Bengt-Ake Gustafsson Washington's seventh-leading scorer in goals and points, Bengt Gustafsson potted 20 or more goals in six of his first seven NHL seasons, including a career-high 32 in 1983-84. He ranks fifth in Capitals' annals with 33 game-winning tallies and ninth in even-strength goals with 129. The Swedish winger was an expansion draft choice of the San Jose Sharks in 1991 but remained in his home country after finishing his NHL career in 1989.


4th Line

Left Wing - Dmitri Khristich One of 25 players in Capitals history to record 300 points, Dmitri Khristich notched over 30 goals and a plus/minus rating of +24 or better in each of his first two full seasons. In 419 games as a Cap, Khristich totaled 20.3 offensive point shares and averaged 0.72 points per game - well ahead of fellow left wings Steve Konowalchuk and Kelly Miller, who had longer tenures in the District.

- Dale Hunter Washington's all-time leader in penalty minutes, Dale Hunter ranks second in NHL history with 3,565 PIMs - only Tiger Williams spent more time in the sin bin. The Caps' captain for five seasons, Hunter ranks just ahead of Bengt Gustafsson for sixth on the team's all-time point-scoring list with 556. He notched his 1,000th career point during the Capitals' Eastern Conference title run in 1998.

Right Wing - Dave Christian A member of the "Miracle On Ice" U.S. Olympic squad in 1980, Dave Christian ranks tenth among Capitals forwards with 417 points in just 504 games with the team. The eighth-leading goal-scorer in Washington annals with 193, Christian ranks seventh in team history with 67 power play goals. He also cracks the team's top ten in even-strength goals, shooting percentage, and goals per game.

spares - Michal Pivonka, Kelly Miller

Michal Pivonka ranks fifth in Capitals' annals with 599 points and his 418 assists are the team's third-highest total. Though his counting stats are superior, Pivonka's point share score is less than that of Mike Ridley and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kelly Miller played the fifth-most games in Washington history and posted the eighth-best plus/minus rating. Only three Capitals scored more short-handed goals than Miller's 15, and only six Caps potted more game-winning goals than his 29. Steve Konowalchuk and Julianne Hough's ex-husband Brooks Laich were also considered.


Defense Pair 1

John Carlson - Rod Langway

The Capitals have had a rich tradition of offensive-minded defensemen, but no blueliner has scored more points for the franchise than John Carlson. A junior hockey hero for team USA, Carlson ranks fifth in Caps' annals with 379 assists, seventh in point shares with 82.7, and tied for third in plus/minus. He finished second in Norris trophy voting in 2020 after posting a career-high 75 points. Hall of Famer Rod Langway didn't need to pile up points to take home the Norris trophy in back-to-back years. A six-time All-Star and Stanley Cup winner with the 1979 Canadiens, Langway ranks second among Capitals in plus/minus and defensive point shares. 

Defense Pair 2

Washington's first round pick (14th overall) in 1992, Sergei Gonchar totaled the most career points of any player in his draft class. The Russian rearguard ranks eighth among all Caps players with 80.3 point shares and ranks fifth among defensemen with 416 points. Calle Johansson is first in franchise annals with 55.7 defensive point shares, and his 85.9 total point shares are the fifth-highest among all Capitals players. The Swedish blueliner ranks tenth in team history with 474 points and only Alex Ovechkin has played more games for the franchise.

Defense Pair 3

Kevin Hatcher - Mike Green

A five-time All-Star, Kevin Hatcher ranks 13th in Capitals history with 277 assists and 426 points. The older brother of Dallas Stars' defenseman Derian Hatcher, Kevin is tenth among Capitals in point shares with 66.7 and seventh in penalty minutes with 999. In a record-breaking 1992-93 season, Hatcher netted 34 goals - the most of any defenseman in a single season since Paul Coffey's record-setting 1985-86 season. Mike Green nearly matched Hatcher's feat with 31 goals in 2008-09. The Norris trophy runner up in '09 and '10 scored the same amount of goals as Calle Johansson - in 408 fewer games.

Spare - Sylvain Cote

Sylvain Cote ranks seventh among Capitals in defensive point shares with 35.1. A well-rounded rearguard, Cote notched 50-plus points in 1992-93 and 1993-94, averaging 0.43 points per game over his decade in D.C. The Whalers' first round pick in the 1984 draft totaled 270 points for Washington - the most of any remaining defenseman - and his +60 rating ranks seventh among Caps' blueliners.


Starter - Braden Holtby

Backup - Olaf Kolzig

Braden Holtby is sixth among all Capitals with 84.4 point shares and he ranks second in several goaltending categories including minutes played, wins, and save percentage. He won the Vezina trophy in 2016, the Jennings trophy in 2017, and the Stanley Cup in 2018. Olaf Kolzig played 243 more games, earned 19 more wins, and pitched the same amount of shutouts as Holtby. A Vezina trophy winner in 2000 and a King Clancy honoree in 2006, "Olie the Goalie" is second to Alex Ovechkin in total point shares for the Capitals with 121.

Head Coach: Bryan Murray  Captain: Alex Ovechkin

Bryan Murray coached more games and earned more victories than any bench boss in Capitals history. He couldn't get the Caps over the hump in the 1980s but he did take a team to the Stanley Cup finals at the end of his career - the Ottawa Senators in 2007. Barry Trotz had a better winning percentage and led the Caps to their first Stanley Cup in 2018, but his four-year tenure was less than half of Murray's near-decade in the District.


I hope you'll join us tomorrow for our next All-Time Team, the Winnipeg Jets.


Thanks for reading!





  1. I was really pulling for Vegas but I'm glad Ovi and crew won the Cup. They will forever be the first first time winner I ever saw.

  2. Ovechkin and Bondra centered by playmaker Backstrom? Yeesh, they'd do so much damage. And that's just the first line. The other forward lines are really strong, too. Very solid defense and goaltending as well.

  3. Those two top lines would put up some serious points. If I hadn't been collecting so many other guys in the 90's, I probably would have collected Bondra too.

    1. My wife bought a Bondra jersey back in the day because she liked the number 12 and he was the best #12 at the time (Jarome Iginla hadn't really become a star yet)

  4. Yay MY TEAM! I breezed through the posts of the other teams as they were posted/published without reading them or sometimes even looking at them But I do like this post of my Homie Caps. I first got into Hockey when they started up in 1974.

    1. And you stayed with 'em after that godawful first season? I applaud you sir!

  5. That Dale Hunter was a baaad man.

    The Capitals have done such a great job of winning year after year that I've practically forgotten they used to be habitually lousy.

    1. Really bad. I still remember that cheap shot against Pierre Turgeon like it was last week.

  6. Very strong defensive corps with this team, which I didn't necessarily expect. You picked the perfect Kolzig card BTW :-)

    1. It's one of my all-time faves. Pinnacle had some really fantastic cards in the '90s that deserve more blog love. Somebody get on that!

  7. My 2nd favorite team after the Sabres, mainly because I live in their sports region. Ovi is probably the best hockey player I got to watch live.