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After the Capitals’ Stanley Cup win on Thursday night, the NHL season, in terms of game action is officially over. In the coming weeks, teams will begin preparing for the offseason, including the NHL Entry Draft, Free Agency, and the contract decisions of players (and in the Capitals’ case, their coaches). In Capital Review, NoVa Caps will be taking a look at each player’s season, their contract status, and their outlook for next season, beginning in numerical order based on jersey number. Next up: defenseman Michal Kempny.
(with Chicago and Washington)
Games Played: 53
Games Played: 22
Acquired by the Capitals prior to the Trade Deadline, Kempny was juggled around the team’s three defensive-pairings before finding a home on the team’s first pairing with John Carlson, one that proved to be one of the Caps’ most effective during the playoffs. While not the offensive dynamo that his defensive partner is, Kempny provided much-needed stability to a blueline that was short on NHL experience, with rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey shouldering what was, at times, a seemingly insurmountable workload for such young and inexperienced rearguards. Kempny’s steady defensive play and willingness to join the offensive attack at times helped strengthen the Capitals’ defense heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
During 22 regular season games played with the Caps, Kempny averaged a career-high 16:45 of ice time a game for Head Coach Barry Trotz, scoring twice and adding an assist for three points, with a plus-1 rating. Kempny finished the regular season with 82 total blocked shots, with 36 of them coming with the Caps. Kempny also saw penalty killing time with the Capitals, averaging 0:29 seconds of shorthanded ice time a game. In addition, Kempny averaged 0:47 seconds per shift. In 24 playoff games played, Kempny scored twice and added three assists for five points, with a plus-1 rating and averaging 17:42 of ice time a game.
Status: Final year of one-year, $900,000 contract ($900,000 salary/annual average value)
Free Agent: July 1, 2018
Analysis: Since being acquired by the Capitals, Kempny has been a solid addition to the blueline, providing defensive stability as well as a hard shot from the point. With Carlson and Jay Beagle also headed for unrestricted free agency, and Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Philipp Grubauer headlining the team’s restricted free agents, re-signing Kempny may prove to be tricky if the Caps want to do so. All of the aforementioned players are due for sizable raises and there may not be enough cap room for Kempny to stay.
With his contract set to expire and a strong regular season and postseason showing, there will likely be more than a few teams interested in signing Kempny should he hit the unrestricted free agent market. At just 27-years old, Kempny should have several more productive seasons in him. Depending on his contract demands and the Capitals’ salary cap situation, Kempny may or may not be in the Opening Night lineup next season. Should he stay, he will likely average around 16:00-17:00 minutes a night, which could also depend on whether the team is able to re-sign Carlson.
MICHAL KEMPNY HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON
By Michael Fleetwood