1 - Why is this team worth watching? AO. When you have a player who can do this, and this, and this, and especially this and enjoys it this much, you have it made. Ovechkin's enthusiasm is infectious and a true pleasure to watch.
2 - Are they better or worse than last year? Worse. Yes Ovie and Backstrom and Semin all have more experience under their belts but they don't play defense. Letting Cristobal Huet go and replacing him with Jose Theodore is a definite downgrade, especially as Theodore stepped up his game purely to get a new contract, and he didn't even do that great in going 28-21-3 with a 2.44 GAA and .910 save percent. Huet, who went a remarkable 11-2 with a 1.63 and .936 in 13 regular season games with them, is still proving he is a top goaltender in the NHL and this team needs a star in net, especially with their poor defensive corps. Mike Green was a revelation last season with his offense from the blueline but there are no Rod Langways, Scott Stevenses or Brendan Witts back there to help out the netminder. Letting Ollie the goalie go is just depressing as he was synonymous with Washington for a long, long time. They still have the rock solid Brent Johnson as a backup but they had better pray that their offense can average at least four goals a game ... And I don't understand why they let Matt Cooke go to Pittsburgh, he added good grit to a pretty soft roster, especially with Chris Clark injury-prone.
3 - Who should YOU draft in fantasy? I had the first overall pick in one of my (many) leagues and picked Ovie. Backstrom and Semin should both be good for 70 points. Viktor Kozlov is still dangerous and good for 50 points, and Michael Nylander will get that number easily if he stays healthy. If. Mike Green had a spectacular year and a lot of people think it was his arrival. Some people also draft Tom Poti for blueline points but I want to punch those people in the face. I hate Tom Poti. A lot. And, as you could guess, I wouldn't put much faith in Theodore either. Keep an eye on the Caps depth chart because Brooks Laich had a strong finish to his season and if he gets on a scoring line, he may be able to keep the momentum. While I am a fan of Clark, with his injury and the progress of the other forwards, he may have lost his spot among the scorers so he isn't likely to bounce back to his 30 goal form.
4 - "Maybe next year the Stanley Cup?" Sorry Ovie, you can keep winning individual trophies but it doesn't look like your team will take the hardware this year - not unless they make a big trade at the deadline and get a 2002-esque performance from Theodore. I think they can in a few years, if Ted Leonis can accept a few seasons of first or second round playoff exits and keeps Bruce Boudreau around while prospects like Simeon Varlamov, Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Chris Bourque grow up. The first three will secure the Caps end of the ice while Bourque will be another sniper up front to help draw attention away from Ovie.