Over the weekend, the Washington Capitals kept busy during the 2018 NHL Draft weekend. The Capitals made a big trade, and drafted some good prospects that the club has high hopes for in the future. With the NHL Draft in the books, the Capitals will now shift focus to the free agency period.
The NHL Free Agency period officially begins at noon on July 1. The Washington Capitals have a few pending unrestricted and restricted free agents on the current roster. How will this affect their approach to the free agency period? What do the Capitals need to figure out before and after the free agency period begins?
Let’s dive in to the biggest questions facing the Capitals before and after free agency on July 1.
MICHAL KEMPNY’S STATUS WITH THE CLUB
It is safe to say that Michal Kempny may be the Capitals biggest priority out of all the club’s unrestricted free agents. Kempny came to the club via a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks before the NHL Trade Deadline.
Kempny played alongside John Carlson throughout the postseason and was a very reliable defenseman in the Stanley Cup run. Kempny will be due a raise, as he is coming off a 1-year, $900k deal. It appears that Kempny will likely have plenty of suitors if he does make it to free agency.
Michal Kempny’s strong playoffs with the Cup champions translating into lots of interest, 7-8 teams have already called for the UFA blue-liner. The Capitals also remain in the mix and are the only team, of course, who can sign him now before the market opens Sunday
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 25, 2018
If Kempny leaves the Capitals and goes elsewhere, the Capitals will likely have to find a defensive replacement either via trade or in free agency.
WILL BROOKS ORPIK RETURN TO THE CAPITALS?
This is another domino that could fall for the Capitals on July 1. After Orpik was dealt to the Avalanche at the draft, the Avalanche quickly bought him out, making him a free agent on July 1.
The Capitals may decide to bring the veteran blueliner back on a cheaper 1-year deal. Orpik is highly respected in the Capitals locker room and played some very good hockey in the Capitals Stanley Cup run.
WHO IS GOING TO BE THE BACKUP GOALTENDER BEHIND BRADEN HOLTBY?
With Philipp Grubauer off to Colorado, is Pheonix Copley next in line behind Braden Holtby? Copley has only appeared in 2 games in his NHL career, and both games were with the St. Louis Blues.
If Copley is not going to stick around, it is possible that the Capitals could search the open market for a veteran backup.
YOUNG PLAYERS COMING UP
Could the Capitals bring in some new faces from the system? The Capitals will likely leave a roster spot or two open for some younger players to fill the space.
It is possible that some young players like Shane Gersich, Lucas Johansen, and Jonas Siegenthaler could push for some remaining roster spots. The Capitals have a strong organizational structure, so the transition to the NHL for the young players should be pretty easy.
By: George Foussekis