The Capitals have started to retool their roster after another early playoff exit. They have re-signed center Brooks Laich, traded for power forward Troy Brouwer and added a few draft picks to their minor-league system. Expect more changes -- perhaps more significant ones -- after owner Ted Leonsis said the Capitals "want to change and improve" this offseason. He also suggested that some trades could be in the works.
Keeping Laich and acquiring Brouwer should help the Capitals in the grit department, but I'm of the belief that they need to add size and physicality on the back end. The Capitals committed themselves to team defense last season and were one of the NHL's stingiest teams when it comes to goals against, but they can only do so much with mediocre defensive players. You know you have issues when fans are citing the absence of Dennis Wideman and Tom Poti as one of the main reasons for the second-round sweep against the Lightning.
The Capitals might lose free agent goalie Semyon Varlamov, but they have two other youngsters, Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, who could perhaps be their goalie of the future. But if Leonsis is eager to win a Stanley Cup this upcoming season, he might want to look outside the organization for a proven veteran.
Offensively, they would be wise to ditch Alexander Semin if a team is willing to pay a reasonable prize for the talented enigma. They need skilled forwards who are willing to score ugly goals -- the kind the Bruins buried in claiming their first Stanley Cup in four decades -- and not just the pretty, highlight-reel variety that Semin scores.
This is a pretty weak class of free agents, so the Capitals probably won't find a top-six forward or an elite defenseman on the open market; they will have to wheel and deal, as Leonsis suggested.