What will the Capitals do on the blue line this summer? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Capitals’ blue line appears mostly set entering the 2022-23 regular season.
The future? Not so much.
“I think our regular-season blue line was good,” general manager Brian MacLellan said in May after the team’s first-round exit. “I was happy with it. Maybe, I’m not sure (in the) playoffs, they weren’t as good as they were during the year, which was a little frustrating for us. We’ve got another year with all of them, and we’ve got some time to work with.”
Washington has five NHL defensemen under contract for next season, but just one defenseman (John Carlson) is locked in for more than one season. That could lead the Capitals to try and add more long-term stability on defense this summer, or they could be readying for a youth movement in the future.
The team has $17,341,667 committed to defense for next season, per CapFriendly. Here are the contracts to monitor, sorted by salary, for the upcoming season:
John Carlson (32 years old): 4 years remaining, $8 million AAV
Carlson is now halfway through his massive eight-year deal that he signed after the team’s Stanley Cup victory in 2018. He just finished his 13th NHL season, all of which have been with the Capitals, as he closes in on 1,000 career games played.
A tenured member of the Capitals’ core and a valued leader in the dressing room, he’ll take his spot on the team’s top pair once again next season.
Dmitry Orlov (30): 1 year remaining, $5.1 million AAV
Orlov potted 12 goals in the 21-22 regular season, a career-best for the now 10-year blue-liner. Alongside Nick Jensen, he helped create what was likely the most stable pairing on the team through the season.
With just one year left on his deal, the Capitals could look to extend Orlov this summer as a longstanding member of the organization, one with a propensity for offense and devastating open ice hits.
Nick Jensen (31): 1 year remaining, $2.5 million AAV
Jensen put together a strong season as a Capital, perhaps his best of three years with the organization, and at just $2.5 million, is on a team-friendly deal.
Trevor van Riemsdyk (30): 1 year remaining, $950,000 AAV
van Riemsdyk had another useful season on the Capitals’ blue line as he made the shift from the right to left side to play with Justin Schultz. At less than a million dollars on the cap, the Capitals opted for value last summer and protected him in the expansion.
While third pair defensemen typically aren’t set on the roster like other higher-paid stars are, his cap hit makes him incredibly valuable to the roster.
Martin Fehervary (22): 1 year remaining, $791,667 AAV
Fehervary’s slick skating and physicality gave him a spot on the team’s top pairing with Carlson and kept him there all season long.
As a young player still on his entry-level deal, the Capitals view Fehervary as a long-term option on the left side of their defense.
Alexander Alexeyev (22) 1 year remaining, $863,333 AAV
Here’s where the decision-making gets interesting for the Capitals.
Alexeyev has played just one NHL game, and has spent the last three seasons, at least in part, with the Hershey Bears. If the Capitals want to get younger on the blue line,
Pending free agents
Matt Irwin, age 34
Michal Kempny, age 31
Justin Schultz, age 31
Tobias Geisser, age 23
Lucas Johansen, age 24