Photo: USA Today Sports
The Capitals’ regular season ended on a high note on Saturday night with a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils and the team defied a number of odds throughout the season. The Capitals’ blueline was arguably its weakness heading into the season and General Manager Brian MacLellan attempted to strengthen it at the trade deadline with the acquisitions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Kempny in particluar, has proven to be a valuable addition to the Capitals’ defensive corps, and with the Stanley Cup Playoffs set to begin for the Caps on Thursday, his presence is a welcome one.
Like any player who joins a new team in the middle of the season, Kempny took some time to find his role within the Capitals’ defense, but since being promoted to the team’s Top 4, he has flourished. While he is not very productive when it comes to the offensive side of the game, Kempny has brought a steadying presence to the Capitals’ backend, with a plus-1 rating in 22 regular season games played in a Washington sweater, as well as averaging a career-high 16:45 minutes a night for Head Coach Barry Trotz. In the aforementioned 22 games played, Kempny had three points (two goals, one assist), with 36 blocked shots and in his final five regular season games, recorded his three points with the Capitals.
An unrestricted free agent after the season, it will be interesting to see if the Caps consider bringing him back, given the possible departure of top defenseman John Carlson in free agency. Kempny has certainly proven to be a reliable defenseman for the Capitals and would likely look for a raise from his current $900,000 salary. With the salary cap believed to be rising, it may be possible to fit him in. Only time will tell.
By Michael Fleetwood