By: Joe Pohoryles
Forwards: (stayed true to C vs W, but not necessarily LW or RW)
*=still with team
^=on team prior to 2010
Alex Ovechkin* (2010-2019)^
Nicklas Backstrom* (2010-2019)^
TJ Oshie* (2015-2019)
Not much to explain here. Ovi is arguably the greatest scorer of all time, still chasing Wayne Gretzky’s goal record as of right now, and is the long-time face of the franchise. Backstrom is a future Hall of Famer leading the franchise in assists by a wide margin, and will undoubtedly join the Great 8 in the rafters when all is said and done.
Oshie is less tenured than the other names on this list, but since his trade from St. Louis he has been a fan favorite. He handles the puck like few others, is consistently among the top offensive producers, and fights for every loose puck on the boards til the whistle blows. He may be best known for his heroics in Sochi back in 2014, but fans in DC will remember his brilliance and work ethic for years to come.
Marcus Johansson (2010-2017)
Evgeny Kuznetsov* (2014-2019)
Jason Chimera (2010-2016)
MoJo spent his seven seasons on the Caps as a middle six forward, and could be counted on to provide 40-50 points each season. He was never a star, and could be streaky with his goal-scoring, but with 290 points (102g, 188a) across 501 games in DC, MoJo ranks 26th in franchise history and seventh among players who were with the team for at least five seasons since 2010. A strong, if understated, presence on the team.
Kuzy brings a level of swagger and skill to his game that makes him so fun to watch. He has had some ups and downs in terms of production, but at his best he’s one of the best centers in the game. He made a case for the Conn Smythe in the 2018 Cup run, scoring more points (32) than anyone in a single postseason since Evgeni Malkin in 2009. He vanquished Malkin’s squad to get out of the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, and will hopefully play a large role for this team for a long time.
Chimera spent his entire Caps career on the wrong side of 30, but nevertheless managed to play nearly every game each season, never missing more than six games, and playing all 82 three times. His speed may have been even more impressive, using his jets to beat guys 10 years his junior to pucks. He was never a marquee name, but he was a consistent piece in a squad that saw a lot of turnover.
Tom Wilson* (2013-2019)
Wilson probably needs one more quality season to surpass Chimera for the final second line spot, but that will of course take place in 2020. Initially a fourth-line bruiser, Wilson has come into his own as a legitimate top-six forward capable of doing damage, and not just on the opposing players. Hated by every other fanbase, and loved dearly by his own, Wilson has stepped up his game every season in recent years. At age 25 and already in his seventh full professional season, Wilson is well on his way to all-time Caps greatness, if not more. I also considered Brooks Laich as the extra skater, but the long-time Cap’s best years were prior to 2010.
Defensemen: (Best D regardless of L or R)
John Carlson* (2010-2019)^
Mike Green (2010-2015)^
Overlooked for years as one of the NHL’s top defensemen, Carlson is finally getting attention on the national stage, but he has been the Caps’ best blue liner for a long time. While he protects his own netminder, Carlson is no stranger to terrorizing others. He sits 10th in franchise history for points, and is a good bet to be ninth by the end of this season, which would mean passing the only defenseman ahead of him on the list (Sorry, Calle Johansson). On the first year of an eight-year mega-extension, Carlson should continue to command the blue line in DC for years to come.
Green spent 10 seasons in DC, five of which came after 2010. He was one of the most productive defensemen in the league. He led all defensemen in goals during the 2012-13 season, and he even earned a reputation of notching game-winning goals in the third period or overtime, developing the moniker “Game Over.” A two-time Norris trophy finalist, Green also got things done in the defensive end, and quickly became a fan favorite.
Karl Alzner (2010-2017)^
Matt Niskanen (2014-2019)
Never quite reaching the level of a fifth overall pick, Alzner was consistently a top four defensemen that could always be relied on to put in quality minutes. He holds the record for most consecutive games played with the franchise, at 423, so he was always a key blueliner during his time here. He left the summer before the 2017-2018 season for the Canadiens, citing he “wanted to win,” which left a sour taste in fans’ mouths. Of course, the Caps went on to win the Cup that next season, and Montreal missed the playoffs entirely. Still, Alzner deserves the spot.
Nisky was fourth behind Ovi, Backstrom and Carlson when it came to most NHL games played without appearing in a Stanley Cup Final among active players. That, of course, all changed in 2018, and he played a major role in that. He was not quite as tenured in DC as the other defensemen on this list, but he was relied on as heavily as any of them, averaging over 20 minutes of ice time each season, bringing strong defense any time he stepped on the ice.
Braden Holtby* (2010-2019)
This position is the easiest one to decide. Holtby has pretty much retained the starting netminder position since he reached the NHL. He has made several All Star teams and won a Vezina trophy in the process. Oh yeah, he also backstopped the team to a Stanley Cup. This could be his final season in Washington, but Holts has been one of the top goaltenders in hockey for most of his career, and (I’ll say this at the risk of upsetting the old heads) rivals Olie Kolzig for best in franchise history. This one’s a no-brainer.