On the first day of free agency in the 2015 off-season, Unrestricted Free Agent Taylor Chorney got a phone call from GM Brian MacLellan. MacLellan contracted the former Penguin to a one-year, one-way contract. Chorney had spent the season prior with the Pittsburgh Penguins on a one-year, two-way contract, where he spent all but seven games in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Prior to last season, Chorney’s most complete season with any squad was his second season with the Edmonton Oilers in the ’09-’10 season, where he played 42 games. Chorney would spend the next five seasons bouncing between the AHL and the NHL, picking up one year contracts with the Oilers, Blues, and the Penguins. Despite signing with three different teams, Chorney only made 24 NHL appearances during those five seasons.
On October 15th, 2015, Chorney would make his Washington Capitals debut against the Chicago Blackhawks in Nate Schmidt’s stead. When addressing the media, he was bombarded with questions regarding his seventh man position on the blue line. But Chorney responded with his head held high, saying that he was used to being a call-up guy and that he would be there when the team needed him.
He probably wasn’t expecting to appear in 55 regular season games with the Capitals that season, 32 of which were consecutive appearances. Chorney signed a two-year contract extension on February 19th, 2016.
While the Caps’ blue line was riddled with injuries for the majority of the season, Taylor Chorney was there to pick up the slack and hold down the blue-line, occasionally trading the healthy-scratch position with fellow blue-liner Nate Schmidt. He recorded a career high six points on the season with one goal and five assists.
Now, ten games into the 2016-17 regular season, Chorney has yet to make an appearance, and will be scratched for game 11 against the Florida Panthers. Barry Trotz had mentioned to the media that he “would likely” put Chorney in the line-up during the Western Canada road trip, but the top six remained in the line-up for all four games.
Now that Washington is back home, Barry Trotz again addressed the media saying that he would like to get both Chorney and Daniel Winnik, who has sat the past four games, back into the line-up.
Last season, Chorney’s presence didn’t seem to disrupt the blue line chemistry too much, and he was a solid depth defenseman, averaging over 13 minutes per game, including one game in December where he played nearly one third of the game against the Rangers.
The real key of Chorney’s game is his versatility on the ice and his ability to match his defensive partner’s play. Last season, Chorney was partnered up mainly with Dmitry Orlov, but was also a main pairing for other defensive call-ups such as Connor Carrick, Aaron Ness, and Ryan Stanton. Despite the adversity that he was playing with, Chorney’s game remained consistent and reliable.
With all of the top six defenseman appearing in all of the games so far, it’s only a matter of time before someone is a healthy scratch to make room for Taylor Chorney. He may not be the best defenseman on the ice for the Caps, but his flexibility in the line-up and his consistency as a defenseman make him an incredibly valuable depth player for the Washington Capitals.
By Justin Green and Mike Bertrand