Durant to DC Talks Must Settle
With LeBron James going back to his hometown team, discussions around the country have escalated regarding another NBA star heading back to his hometown in the near future. Kevin Durant, arguably the leagues best player behind James, is set to be a free agent at the end of the 2015-16 regular season and already talks have begun on the possibility of the Thunder star coming back home.
There is a legitimate shot that the 2014 NBA MVP could wind up in a Washington uniform for the start of the 2016-17 regular season, but the chatter must settle for now.
The former Longhorn standout still has two more seasons in Oklahoma City and his deal is not similar to what LeBron James had in Miami. When Durant signed a five year contract extension in 2010, his deal did not include an opt out clause after the fourth season. So unfortunately for Wizards fans, he cannot opt out after the upcoming season.
The coming back home hype for Cleveland fans was warranted after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season because there was a chance that James would opt out of his final year in Miami. The city of Cleveland remained patient for a whole season and the Akron native did what they had hoped.
Wizards’ nation is now feeling what Cavs fans did over a year ago, but it is a different situation. Washington must be patient due to the fact Durant cannot opt out of his final year and hit free agency.
As enticing as it may sound to land one of the biggest stars in the game, Wizards fans must play the waiting game. The game will not be too difficult because of the potential this team has for the upcoming season. With all the pieces added to the puzzle from the off-season, there are high expectations. So for now, Washington fans should just live in the moment because this season has a chance to be something special.
Washington Capitals Potential Forward Lines
With training camp on the horizon, everyone will await to see how new head coach Barry Trotz tinkers with the Capitals forward lines. Since Washington did not address the hole left at second line center by Mikhail Grabovski, there is uncertainty how the top six will shake up.
Trotz recently dropped hints regarding potential replacements for Grabovski, who signed a deal with the New York Islanders in free agency. The former Predator head coach mentioned the possibility that players like Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky could fill that center void.
With Brooks Laich back in the swing of things assuming he stays healthy, the top six can get tricky. Even the top nine becomes crowded with some of the younger prospects trying to climb their way into the lineup. With that being said, it is time to sort out the four forward lines and evaluate the possbilities.
1: Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin
2: Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Troy Brouwer
3: Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward
4: Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Jay Beagle
As of now, the above line up could set up to be the top four forward lines for the Washington Capitals. It is possible, but there are several different ways these lines could change and it begins at the top.
Brooks Laich has seen his time on the wing playing along side Ovi and Backstrom in his career, but he was given a contract extension years ago based on his ability to be a quality two-way center. So if Laich can stay on the ice, he could find himself filling the void at second line center.
The third line should remain in tact because that combination above was consistently the most productive line throughout the season. Ward and Chimera had career years and their chemistry on the ice would be tough to separate.
The biggest problem that arises from this current lineup is Tom Wilson playing on the fourth line. Wilson is a young promising player and it is now his time to see increased minutes. Remaining on the fourth line will not help Wilson get those minutes, so he could find his way into the top three lines.
The wildcard of all this could be last years first round selection Andre Burakovsky. The 2013 first rounder had a tremendous season for the Erie Otters in the OHL, so there is temptation to bring him up to the big league. If he shows flashes of promise in training camp, Burakovsky could find himself on the big roster.
With all that being said, here is another look at how the lineups could unfold for the upcoming season:
1. Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin
2. Tom Wilson, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer
3. Jason Chimera, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Joel Ward
4. Eric Fehr, Michael Latta, Jay Beagle
The first line does not see much change except for the swap of MoJo and Laich. This second line is assuming that Trotz hopes for Laich to hold onto the second line center position. This top six seems ideal for a couple of reasons.
Tom Wilson gets a lot more experience cracking the top six, which will be imperative for his growth. The second line has the make up of a Trotz style in which accountability is a priority. Laich is a very good two-way center while Wilson brings another dimension of physicality. Troy Brouwer got hot scoring toward the tail end of the season and this line would depend on him to continue providing points.
The third line had a minor change in dropping Fehr to the fourth line. Kuznetsov did not play a lot of center last season and with this lineup, he would get the much-needed experience at playing that role. Ward and Chimera were the constant point producers from the third line last season with the center position being interchangeable between Grabovski and Fehr. Kuzy could find his way to become the second line center if Laich re-aggravates past injuries.