Cinderella has gone AWOL.
The Capitals have Cindy’s Glass Slipper and the Silver Stanley Cup.
Having vanquished the once fairy tale Golden Knights, 4-3 Thursday night at Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, the Caps jet home to celebrate their third period comeback classic.
Meanwhile, 30 other teams begin serious focus on the NHL Entry Draft (June 22-23) in Dallas, followed by the Free Agent Frenzy on July 1.
Ironically, even though they’re still enjoying a champagne-after-taste, the Capitals, themselves, have several challenges in the heart-throbbing hockey-month ahead.
Of course, when Barry Trotz’s club disposed of the once-magical Knights for Washington’s first Stanley Cup, the natural reaction is that the Star-Spangled Skaters machine “ain’t broke,” so why fix it?
Led by Alex Ovechkin, Lars Eller — with the winner — Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby and John Carlson — among many other worthies — the visiting Caps took Vegas’ best punches and still prevailed before the standing room crowd.
Appropriately, Captain Ovi won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the series MVP and there could be little argument there. The Caps crack goalie Braden Holtby could have been given a Runner-Up Smythe if there was such a prize.
As for future NHL prize-winners, the 30 non-Cup-teams now will be challenged to find potential aces in the upcoming Draft.
The annual crapshoot features a couple of sure-things such as defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, winger Andrei Svechnikov and center Brady Tkachuk.
That trio will be feasted upon by first-picking Buffalo, followed by Carolina and Montreal.
The consensus is that the Sabres will go for Dahlin, regarded as the best player available. It’s a toss-up as to who will be plucked second and third.
As for the Locals, the Rangers — with the ninth overall pick — will be seeking a defenseman. One possibility is University of Michigan defenseman Quinn Hughes.
The Blueshirts also are expected to give a hard look at D-man Noah Dobson, currently with the Acadie-Bathurst of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Like the Rangers, Lou Lamoriello must fortify his blue line corps. Selecting in the eleventh and twelve slots, Larrupin’ Lou is allowing his scouts to orchestrate the picks.
Lou & Company must hope that defender Ty Smith of the Junior Spokane Chiefs remains available. The Hockey News sees him as a third or fourth NHL defenseman.
For their twelfth choice, the Isles might like another blue line possibility, Bode Wilde from the USA National Development Team program.
In the seventeenth spot, New Jersey’s immediate need also is on the blue line. Swedish defenseman Rasmus Sandin could be the man. He’s attracted positive attention skating for the Junior Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Simultaneous with Draft speculation, hockey pundits already are brainstorming over potential trades. The following — in alphabetical order — are The Maven’s Picks To Be Dealt.
MAX DOMI, ARIZONA: Mean like his father — Tie Domi — Max plays a fast game and was projected to be a better player than he has been for a fourth overall pick. The Devils could use a feisty scorer like him.
OLIVER EKMAN-LARSSON, ARIZONA: Big, strong and defense-minded, the Swede has been worn down by an inept team. An incredibly smooth skater, OEL would be A-1 for any of the three locals.
JUSTIN FAULK, CAROLINA: Maybe not Gargantuan in size, this D-man is a proven leader but underrated because he plays in Raleigh. With a new owner, the Canes GM Don Waddell will be making explosive deals. This guy would look good on Seventh Avenue.
PHILIPP GRUBAUER, WASHINGTON: This German product was deemed good enough to start the Caps first round battle with Columbus. As the Caps backup, he’s ready to do what Cam Talbot did for the Oilers and Devan Dubnyk did for Minnesota; play somewhere else and become a star.
NOAH HANIFIN, CAROLINA: He’s another likely defense victim of the necessary Canes shake-up. Admired for his skating and puck-moving ability, the Boston native would be attractive to about 30 teams other than Raleigh’s edition.
MIKE HOFFMAN, OTTAWA: Here’s a forward who has been mentioned in possible trades so often and for so long, he must keep two aspirin bottles in his pocket. Nevertheless, with the Senators in big trouble, GM Pierre Dorion has got to move bodies, so why not Mike?
ERIK KARLSSON, OTTAWA: Nobody believes Dorion when he claims that this prize D-man is not to be dealt. A top-three defender, he figures to attract major attention from such clubs as Vegas, San Jose and Toronto.
PHIL KESSEL, PITTSBURGH: Like Karlsson, Kessel has a GM denying his enigmatic right wing can be had. But since the Penguins dethroning, moves will be made in Crosby Village and Kessel’s scoring ability (34 goals, 92 points) has never been better. Nor has his trade appeal.
RYAN O’REILLY, BUFFALO: Having failed in Colorado and not doing much more for the Sabres, this center could find himself with a playoff-bound team. His GM Jason Botterill must get fresh faces. The Habs, Canucks and Carolina figure in the bidding.
MAX PACIORETTY, MONTREAL: Captain of the Habs he may be, but GM Marc Bergevin — like Waddell and Botterill — is under severe pressure to make moves. Slapsie Maxie always is mentioned in the “Available” category and this just might be the year it happens. Possible destinations: Edmonton and Pittsburgh.
COREY PERRY, ANAHEIM: Over a decade, he’s proven to be a winner in virtually every offensive manner; and that includes winning a Stanley Cup. Still a worthy, he can do it all. Guaranteed, the Ducks will be fielding offers despite Perry being very pricey. If Habs lose Pacioretty, they’ll look at Perry.
JEFF SKINNER, CAROLINA: The problem here is that dirty-hockey-word — concussion. Still, he can skate with the best of them; and is feisty to boot. He’s worth a gamble for the Flyers, Islanders and Ducks.
P.K. SUBBAN, NASHVILLE: It’s hard to imagine this ace defender as trade-bait but, you know the story; if Wayne Gretzky can be dealt so can a P.K. Plus, the man is a Norris Trophy candidate. GM David Poile will want a king’s ransom and that does not mean he’s going to the Kings. Hey, maybe Boston or Vancouver.
JACOB TROUBA, WINNIPEG: He’s the whole package; size, smarts, skating and savvy. Who wouldn’t want this talent? The Maven knows who would — Vancouver, Boston, Rangers and Edmonton.
But these potential moves are for days, weeks and months ahead.
For now, congratulations to the Capitals who will be hailed in D.C. as they are — worthy champions.
Likewise, the Cinderella team of All-Time, Vegas’ Golden Knights, have cemented themselves in glorious NHL history for their ultra-amazing performance, right down to the final buzzer.
Kudos to the Golden Misfits, honorable runners-up!
Pumpkins, they are not. Heroes they are!