Stan Bowman

Signings, trades shift balance of power across the NHL

After building up to a playoff run that ended in the second round yet again, the Washington Capitals are going through a salary-cap nightmare usually reserved for Stanley Cup champions.

The same struggles that led to the deconstruction of the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings over the years is affecting the Capitals, though those teams have a pile of Stanley Cup rings to ease the pain.

Now Washington is expected to take a step back next season as the balance of power shifts in the Eastern Conference and across the league.

"We maxed it out, both player-wise and salary-wise," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Monday. "It's no...