Heading into tonight's game with the New York Islanders, the Washington Capitals expect to have three new faces in the lineup, and two of them are coming up on career milestones. Their career stats are impressive, and should make the Capitals a formidable opponent heading into the playoffs.
The addition of Jason Arnott alone changes the complexion of the team's lineup. A 2-time All-Star, Arnott is just 4 goals away from 400 in his career and 3 points from 900, making him the active leader among Capitals in those categories. All told, Arnott leads the Capitals in career games played (1,161), goals (396), assists (501), points (897), penalty minutes (1,208), powerplay goals (137), and game-winning goals (60). Arnott also has played more than twice as many playoff games (106) as any Capital not named Scott Hannan, and he leads the Caps in career playoff goals (30), assists (36), points (66), and powerplay goals (14). In fact, Arnott almost has as many playoff goals, assists, and points as Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom combined (32 goals, 38 assists, 70 points). That Arnott has won a Stanley Cup (by scoring the winning goal in double overtime, no less) and a World Championship is icing on the cake. In terms of his experience and career accomplishments, Arnott's acquisition is akin to the trades for Sergei Fedorov in 2008 or Esa Tikkanen in 1998, trades that changed Capitals history.
Marco Sturm's entry onto the roster on Saturday made him the second most experienced Capital with 872 games played, behind only Mike Knuble (949). He has scored 18 of his 238 career goals while shorthanded, making him the Capitals leader in that category. He is one of four 200 goal scorers on the roster, and his 475 career points are also fourth on the team. His international experience with Team Germany in over a dozen tournaments may not have netted him many medals, but playing in 3 Olympic games against excellent competition is worth something in itself. His 52 career playoff games rank only behind Hannan and Arnott on the Caps.
Dennis Wideman is a veteran of 439 NHL games, behind only Hannan (812) and Tom Poti (808) on the Caps blueline in experience. He comes to the Capitals just 2 points shy of 200 for his NHL career. Wideman's 30 career playoff games again rank only behind Hannan (73) and Poti (51), and he has the second-most playoff assists (21) on the team behind only Arnott. His 22 career playoff points lead all Caps' defenders.
The combined career playoff numbers of in-season acquisitions Arnott, Sturm, Wideman, and Hannan are a significant addition to the young Caps. Factoring in the subtractions of Tomas Fleischmann and David Steckel, the four new players add 215 career playoff games (a 44% improvement), 33 goals (38%), 76 assists (52%), and 109 points (47%) to the Capitals combined career ledger.
Combined, the entire Capitals team has played 662 playoff games, scored 112 goals, 216 assists, and 328 points. Hannan, Arnott, Wideman, and Sturm account for 261 of those games and 40 goals, 81 assists, and 121 points.
With the exception of Mike Knuble getting into a total of 3 playoff games during the Red Wings' 1997-98 Stanley Cup run and 12 of 17 Flyers games in their 2007-08 Conference Final run, no Capital had been past the second round of the playoffs before Hannan arrived in November. No other player on the roster had been to the Stanley Cup Final before Arnott arrived, and he has been twice. Arnott doubles the number of Stanley Cup rings in the locker room, too.
The Capitals have the experience and the talent to make a deep run this spring. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.
Other career milestones to keep an eye on are:
Alex Ovechkin: 1 assist from 300
Brooks Laich: 3 goals from 100
Jason Chimera: 4 goals from 100