Capitals have a deep blue-line prospect pool but no NHL openings

Capitals have a deep blue-line prospect pool but no NHL openings

s Lucas Johansen watched the Washington Capitals’ offseason unveil from afar, he tipped his cap to established manager Brian MacLellan and browse the writing on the wall. Coming off a franchise-first Stanley Cup, MacLellan changed into capable of re-signal John Carlson and Michal Kempny after trading veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to get his $5.5 million income cap hit off the books, only to sign him to a cheaper contract as soon as the Colorado Avalanche bought out his historical deal.

The effect changed into a championship defense returning in tact for an extra run. It also intended Johansen can be attending training camp and not using a actual chance of constructing the NHL roster.

“It’s challenging,” Johansen mentioned. “Mac did a very good job keeping a Stanley Cup group collectively, which hats off to him because that’s in fact complicated to do. As a man in right here, you just need to be aggressive. You simply want to exhibit them that in the event that they need you, you’re going to be relied on to make the step up.”

during the last four drafts, the Capitals have made 22 selections, and they’ve used 11 of them on defensemen, together with their two most fresh first-circular picks — Johansen in 2016 and Alex Alexeyev this previous summer. meanwhile, Washington has regularly shored up its defense and locked up a great deal of it for the long term. The group’s excellent 4 — Carlson, Kempny, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov — are all beneath contract through at least the 2020-21 season. Orpik is on a one-year deal, and whereas this could be his ultimate season in Washington, the Capitals nonetheless have 24-yr-historical Christian Djoos and 23-year-old Madison Bowey, who each performed the majority of final season as newbies and are expected to handle greater accountability going ahead.

holding blue-line balance after successful the Stanley Cup is a pretty good issue, nevertheless it has created a logjam for the firm’s prospects. MacLellan pointed to 2015 2d-circular choose Jonas Siegenthaler, 2013 seventh-rounder Tyler Lewington and Johansen as “all able to begin playing some video games and establish themselves as NHLers.”

“I believe we’re as deep as we’ve ever been on protection this yr,” MacLellan referred to.

With Washington coming off a short summer, that means less time to recover and instruct, after the long playoff run, the team could be greater liable to early-season accidents — Carlson and middle Lars Eller were nursing minor decrease-body injuries before training camp even began — so teach Todd Reirden has informed eager prospects that the competition in the preseason isn’t just to make the outlet-night roster. Bowey can attest that the first name-up may also be simply as crucial. He impressed in training camp a year in the past, however in part as a result of he become exempt from waivers and could be despatched to the American Hockey League without any risk, Bowey become one of the most closing decreases. Niskanen then broke his thumb just five games into the season, and Bowey was lower back, subsequently enjoying in fifty one games.

“anything can turn up,” Johansen talked about. “You don’t hope an damage on any one, however it is a hockey season and issues happen, so if the possibility arises, then I’ll be in a position.”

Johansen made his preseason debut Tuesday, playing to Niskanen’s left and logging more than 20 minutes of ice time. Alexeyev turned into in the lineup, too; however the Capitals showered the 18-yr-old with compliment after an remarkable first summer time in the company, he became among the first round of cuts the subsequent morning so he could return to his Canadian junior group for the initiate of its working towards camp. Siegenthaler looks to be highest within the pecking order of protecting potentialities, and MacLellan mentioned ultimate week that the group has “loads of faith in” the 21-12 months-historic Swiss.

He also referred to that Johansen “needs games this 12 months” after spending all of remaining season within the AHL. Half of the primary-circular picks in 2016 have made their NHL debut, but he’s a part of the half nonetheless waiting.

“I are trying no longer to seem around, since you do get anxious,” Johansen observed. “I definitely wish to be enjoying in the NHL. each person right here does.”

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