The popular rumor these days is that the Capitals need to work a trade that includes Philipp Grubauer for a top-four defenseman. Development camp hasn’t even started yet and the Expansion Draft was just last week. Why panic?
While it’s true the Caps need a top-four defenseman to fill the spot they originally slated for Nate Schmidt, they should probably take a look within and see if there is anyone who could possibly grow into the role. Let’s not forget that when Schmidt and Orlov first landed spots on the roster, not many agreed that they were ready. Also, there is no guarantee that bringing in a “ready-to-go” defenseman will help out the team at all. Caps fans who’ve been around awhile can recall a few trades that were supposed to help us win the Cup, but it didn’t end well.
— CSN Capitals (@CSNCapitals) June 26, 2017
You have Taylor Chorney on the roster already. Then you have Madison Bowey, Tyler Lewington, Christian Djoos, and Aaron Ness in Hershey. Additionally, Jonas Siegenthaler wants that spot on the roster. While he’s not accustomed to the North American-sized rink yet, he’s a big guy that has tremendous potential, albeit untapped just yet.
Breaking it Down
Taylor Chorney – Hands down the guy who has the most NHL experience on the list, Chorney has appeared in games during seven seasons for four different teams (Edmonton, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Washington) for a total of 141 games. He’s recorded 18 points (3G, 15 assists) and, aside from the time in Edmonton, he’s a +15. The 2nd round pick (#36 overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in 2005 is 6’1″ and has definitely put in his time with the Caps as the #7 or #8 defenseman. The only question – is he biding his time and working hard enough in practice?
Madison Bowey – After an impressive first season in Hershey last year, Bowey became synonymous with “snake-bitten” this season. He was a lucky, the injury he sustained in Syracuse could have easily ended his career if it had been a bit more severe. In his rookie season with the Bears, he was impressive, recording 29 points (4G, 25A) with a +22. This past season, working hard to come back from injury, he was +6 in just 34 games. Some were very critical of his play after the injury, but if he comes into camp 100%, he could definitely find himself on the roster. The 6’2″ native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, was a 2nd round (#53 overall) pick by the Capitals in the 2013 draft.
Tyler Lewington – With the need for a third rookie defenseman due to injuries last season, Lewington got his feet wet with the Bears a bit quicker than the organization intended, but the kid held his own. In fact, the 6’1″ native of Sherwood Park, Alberta has made his presence known (or perhaps felt) as he has become known as the enforcer on the team, albeit not intended. With 142 penalty minutes, opponents knew if they took a cheap shot and Lewington was on the ice, there would be repercussions. Aside from that, he was a steady defenseman who finished his first full season with the Bears with 17 points (4G, 13 A) and +16. Another 2013 draft pick by the Capitals, he was a 7th round (#204 overall) pick.
Christian Djoos – After only his second full season in the AHL, Djoos has made remarkable strides in his game and if he puts on a bit of size in the off-season and works on becoming more physical, he should definitely see time in the NHL. A 58-point scorer for Hershey this season, Djoos has been +16 over the course of his time in Hershey without a negative season. The 6’0″ native of Gothenburg, Sweden was a 7th round (#195 overall) pick by the Capitals in the 2012 draft.
Aaron Ness – Usually on the left side of the defensive pairing, Ness has some NHL experience, but his size is more than likely the reason why he’s only seen 39 NHL games in his career. Additionally, 29 of those games came with the New York Islanders. He’s recorded one goal and four assists and was a -10, but with the Capitals, he was a +3 with two assists in ten games. The 5’10” native of Roseau, MN was a 2nd round (#40 overall) pick by the Islanders in the 2008 draft.
Jonas Siegenthaler – A bit of an unknown, Siegenthaler has played just 13 games over parts of two seasons for the Bears, which makes his chances of a spot on Washington’s roster a bit of a long shot, but the kid wants to be there. He’s trying to adjust to a different size rink and a different style of play than he has been used to in the Swiss League and has had to overcome some personal issues as well. However, the 6’3″ native of Zürich, Switzerland, who was a 2nd round pick (#57 overall) by the Capitals in the 2015 draft, has proven that he is resilient.
So it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that someone will impress the Caps enough to end up on the opening night roster. While whoever takes that spot won’t have that trademark Nate Schmidt smile, it’s entirely possible that Caps fans find something just as endearing about that mystery player. If it’s one of the six aforementioned guys, give him a chance…he’ll probably grow on you just like Schmidt and Orlov did.
By Julie Beidler