Where Are They Now: 2018 Washington Capitals

by | Jul 23, 2023 | Soapbox

It’s been only five years since the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup. With the dog days of summer now upon us, it’s a good opportunity to look back on the noteworthy players on their 2018 playoff roster and see where they are today.

Alex Ovechkin: Now 37, the Washington Capitals captain remains his club’s most powerful scoring threat. Since winning the Cup, he’s had two seasons with 50 or more goals and two with 40 or more. With 822 career regular-season goals, he’s closing in on Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894.

Nicklas Backstrom: A nagging hip injury limited the Capitals center to just 86 games over the last two seasons. Following a hip resurfacing procedure, the 35-year-old Backstrom hopes to stage a bounce-back performance in 2023-24.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: The leading scorer of the 2018 postseason (32 points) has struggled with consistency. He’s had two 70-plus point seasons along with two disappointing campaigns of 52 and 55 points. The 31-year-old center is currently the subject of trade speculation.

John Carlson: One of the NHL’s elite puck-moving defensemen, the 33-year-old Carlson netted over 70 points in three of the last five seasons. He was limited to just 40 games in 2022-23 after suffering a serious head injury but has since recovered and will return to action with the Capitals.

2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals (NHL.com).

T.J. Oshie: When healthy, Oshie remains a dangerous offensive presence. However, age and injuries appear to be catching up with the 36-year-old Capitals winger. He was limited to 44 games in 2021-22 and 58 games last season.

Tom Wilson: Knee surgery limited the 29-year-old Wilson to just 33 games last season. The big Capitals power forward is a year removed from a career-best 52-point performance and will attempt to regain that form in 2023-234.

Braden Holtby: After backstopping the Capitals to the Cup in 2018, Holtby’s performance steadily declined. The veteran goaltender played for the Vancouver Canucks in 2020-21 and with the Dallas Stars in 2021-22. A lower-body injury kept the 33-year-old out of action last season. It could lead to his retirement though he hasn’t made it official yet.

Dmitry Orlov: The 31-year-old defenseman spent almost 12 seasons with the Capitals but was traded to the Boston Bruins on Feb. 23. On July 1, he inked a two-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Matt Niskanen: Traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in June 2019, Niskanen played a key role in helping his new club reach the 2020 playoffs. The veteran defenseman retired in October 2020 at age 33.

Brooks Orpik: After playing one more season with the Capitals, the rugged defenseman announced his retirement in June 2019. Orpik, 42, has spent the past four seasons as a player development coach for the Capitals working with their defense prospects with their AHL affiliate in Hershey.

Lars Eller: After nearly seven seasons with the Capitals, Eller was traded on March 1 to the Colorado Avalanche. On July 1, the 34-year-old center signed a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Chandler Stephenson: Shipped to the Vegas Golden Knights in Dec. 2019, Stephenson has blossomed into an invaluable top-six forward. Now 29, he tallied 64 points in 2021-22 and 65 points last season helping the Golden Knights win the 2023 Stanley Cup.

Andre Burakovsky: Traded to the Colorado Avalanche in June 2019, Burakovsky enjoyed three seasons with 44 or more points in the Mile High City, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2022. Signed to a four-year contract last summer with the Seattle Kraken, the 28-year-old winger had 39 points in 49 games before suffering a season-ending injury.

Jakub Vrana: Dealt to the Detroit Red Wings in April 2021, Vrana struggled on and off the ice, entering the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program last season. Traded to the St. Louis Blues on March 3, the 27-year-old winger had 10 goals and 14 points in 20 games with his new club.

Philipp Grubauer: Following the Capitals Cup win, Grubauer was shipped to the Colorado Avalanche. He spent three seasons with the Avs, establishing himself as a starting goalie. Signed by the Seattle Kraken in 2021, the 31-year-old shares the netminding duties with Martin Jones.

Brett Connolly: Signed as a free agent with the Florida Panthers in 2019, Connolly was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in April 2021 and was bought out last July. The 31-year-old winger spent last season with Lugano in Switzerland’s National League.

Devante Smith-Pelly: After spending 2018-19 bouncing between the Capitals and their AHL affiliate, Smith-Pelly played for KHL club Kunlun Red Star in 2019-20 and two seasons in the AHL with the Ontario Reign and Laval Rocket. After 11 pro seasons, the 31-year-old winger announced his retirement last December.

Jay Beagle: Signed a four-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks in 2018 and was traded in April 2021 to the Arizona Coyotes. The 37-year-old center did not play last season. He’s listed as retired by Cap Friendly.

Michal Kempny: Acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in Feb. 2018, Kempny skated in all 24 Capitals playoff games. After three more seasons in Washington, the 32-year-old defenseman was signed as a free agent by the Seattle Kraken for 2022-23. However, his contract was terminated and he signed a two-year deal with Czech league club Sparta Praha.

Alex Chiasson: Signed with the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent, he spent three seasons with them followed by a one-year stint with the Vancouver Canucks and spending 2022-23 with the Detroit Red Wings. The 32-year-old winger is currently an unrestricted free agent.

Christian Djoos: Appeared in 16 playoff games for the 2018 Capitals. Spent the next two seasons split between the Capitals and their AHL affiliate in Hershey before being traded to the Anaheim Ducks in 2020. He spent 2020-21 with the Detroit Red Wings. For the past two seasons, the 28-year-old defenseman skated with Zug EV of Switzerland’s National League.