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Karl Alzner made one final visit to the Caps on Saturday

Karl Alzner made one final visit to the Caps on Saturday

After nine years as a Capital, Karl Alzner couldn’t leave without saying goodbye.

Washington’s longtime Iron Man stopped by Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Saturday to shake hands and say thank you to the Capitals’ training and medical staffs as well as other members of the front office.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Alzner told CSN as left the practice facility.

“It’s nice to see all the love from the trainers and stuff,” he continued. “It's going to be a little bit strange. At the same time, I’m excited to get a new opportunity. [Montreal] is the franchise in the league; it’s hockey. I don’t think it really gets much better than that. It’s competitive and [there’s] management and ownership that’s willing to do absolutely anything to win. That’s kind of the dream, for a player that especially hasn’t won a cup yet. So I’m pretty excited about that.”

Alzner signed a five year, $23.1 million deal with the Canadiens for an annual average value of $4.625 million on Saturday. The 28-year-old defenseman earned $2.8 million last season in Washington.

Although Alzner had known for a while that he wouldn’t be returning to the Caps, it didn’t make a hectic process any easier to stomach in recent days.

“It’s been crazy,” said Alzner, who was drafted by Washington 5th overall in 2007. “It hasn’t been a whole lot of fun. A lot of people say this must be awesome, you get the pick of the litter and figure out where you want to go, where you want to live. It's not really that way. For some guys it is. [But] there are so many decisions to make, especially when you have family and roots as deep as we have here. You have to be smart about your decision. We had some really good opportunities and Montreal was definitely the best one.”

As excited as Alzner is to be joining a franchise steeped in tradition and coming off a division title, he also acknowledged that he had a little trepidation—at first, anyway—about the intense scrutiny that players face in a hockey-mad city like Montreal vs. Washington.

“A lot of talking, a lot feeling nauseous at times because me and Mandy are homebodies and we’re pretty private,” he said, referring to his wife. “So there were a lot of uneasy moments but in the end we feel pretty good.”

So now Alzner is a Canadien. But before totally shifting into Montreal mode, he had a stop he needed to make—at the Caps’ rink where he greeted trainers, coaches and other team employees. He was flanked by Mandy.

“These guys are our family,” Alzner said. “We’ve spent a ton of time together. We’re pretty tight and they all wanted to say bye, too. I know that everyone kind of takes off for the summer so we knew was this was probably one of our only opportunities to do that.”

Oh, and there was one more reason he stopped at Kettler.

“And to send a few packages out before I get completely cut off,” he cracked.

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Capitals 2017-18 Breakout Candidate: Andre Burakovsky

Capitals 2017-18 Breakout Candidate: Andre Burakovsky

As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.

They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.

Up first are the Capitals breakout candidates.

We've detailed why Tom Wilson and Brett Connolly are destined for breakout season.

Today we are looking at Andre Burakovsky.

YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF ANDRE BURAKOVSKY IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.

2017-18 CAPITALS BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: ANDRE BURAKOVSKY

Position: Left Wing
Age: 22
NHL Seasons: 3 (196 games)
2016-17 Stats: 64 games, 12 goals, 23 assists +13 plus/minus

Tarik El-Bashir's Breakout Preview:
Due to some high-profile free agent departures this offseason, the Caps will be counting on a handful of youngsters to turn potential into production in 2017-18.

At the top of that list is 22-year-old winger Andre Burakovsky, who figures to get a full-time role in the top six forward group, possibly on the top line alongside Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. He should also see a significant jump in power play minutes. 

The biggest challenge for Burakovsky figures to be the same issue that’s tripped him up the past couple of years: consistency. A year ago, for example, he went 26 games without a goal. But he also enjoyed a torrid 13-game stretch in which he racked up six goals and eight assists. So it’s there; he’s just got to bring it every game now. 

Former Washington forward Marcus Johansson, another first round pick from Sweden, became a 20-goal scorer in his fifth NHL season.

The Caps desperately need Burakovsky reach that plateau—or even surpass it—a full year earlier.

Jill Sorenson's Keys to Breakout:
1.  Confidence: "He really relies on his confidence to find success. So when he went through those lulls last season he didn't have a lot of confidence. But he kept shooting the puck, kept sooting the puck and he knew it would find the back of the net sooner or later. He got scratched, he came back, boom, he found the back of the net. I think going on that top line in the playoffs and looking ahead to next season is going to give him that confidence he needs to really produce."

2.  Comfort Level: He's had great mentorship from Nick Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. He understands now, that at 22 years old, he looks at those guys and sees 'hey those guys have been successful, I see what it means to be a pro. To have that connection with Backstrom, who he plays alongside on the ice and spends time with off of it, wil help him take a big step ahead."

Prediction: Over/Under 25 Goals
Tarik: 27, over.
Jill: 25, push.

RELATED: TEN BEST CAPITALS PLAYERS OF ALL-TIME

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Capitals 2017-18 Breakout Candidate: Brett Connolly

Capitals 2017-18 Breakout Candidate: Brett Connolly

As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.

They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.

Up first are the Capitals breakout candidates.

First, we previewed Tom Wilson.

Today we are looking at Brett Connolly.

YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF BRETT CONNOLLY IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.

2017-18 CAPITALS BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Brett Connolly

Position: Right Wing
Age: 25
NHL Seasons: 6 (276 games)
2016-17 Stats: 15 goals, 8 assists, +20 plus/minus

Tarik El-Bashir's Breakout Preview: 
After playing the last three seasons on one-year deals, Connolly finally has a little security after inking a two-year, $3 million contract with the Caps earlier this month.

It’s a hefty raise over the $850,000 he earned last season, and it’s emblematic of the higher expectations that he’ll shoulder in 2017-18.

Connolly’s first season in Washington was a strange one. It began with him sitting out as a healthy scratch, and it ended with him sitting out as a healthy scratch. But in between, the former first round pick was remarkably efficient, scoring a career-high 15 goals in 66 games, while skating fewer than 11 minutes per.

Next season, Connolly’s role and playing time are expected to increase … and so, too, are his numbers.

Jill Sorenson's Keys to Breakout:
1.  Maturity: "He's finally settling in and understands what it means to be a pro hockey player. He feels like this is a good fit for him. He's ready to handle the increased pressure and increased responsibillity."

2.  Comfort Level: "He feels like Washington is where he wants to be. He has a nose for the net, and with that comfort level now with this team, that natural scoring abillity I expect will come through."

Prediction: Total Points
Tarik: 21 goal, 16 assists
Jill: 20 goals, 18 assists

RELATED: TEN BEST CAPITALS PLAYERS OF ALL-TIME