The Washington Capitals made a third round of cuts to their training camp roster on Wednesday, leaving just 33 players who remain in camp: 20 forwards, 9 defensemen and four goaltenders. Among those still in training camp is second round draft pick from the 2015 NHL entry draft, Jonas Siegenthaler.
The 6’-2” Siegenthaler has had a very impressive preseason, and has been (arguably) the Capitals best defensive prospect in the first five preseason games. He has shown solid discipline on the backend, and has also been very aggressive in the offensive zone, something Capitals head coach Todd Reirden has stated he wants to see more of this season. Siegenthaler has answered Reirden’s call this preseason. (You can review his game reports for game 1 here, game 4 here and game 5 here).
It’s no secret that the Capitals are looking really hard at the 7th defenseman position right now, a position occupied by Madison Bowey last season. Bowey struggled at times last season, and was put on notice this week by Capitals head coach Todd Reirden that he needs to step up his game. However, there are other factors that need to be considered in the teams final decision.
Siegenthaler remains on a two-way deal (waivers-exempt), which allows the Capitals to return him directly to Hershey, without having to have him clear waivers. Madison Bowey, on the other hand, is on a one way contract, meaning he would need to clear waivers to be sent down to Hershey, something the Capitals may not be ready to try at this point. (See Nathan Walker). So for now, it would seem the Capitals would likely keep Bowey for the 7th defenseman roll. Or go with eight defenseman.
For Siegenthaler to make the opening night roster, the Capitals would likely need to go with eight defenseman on their 23-man roster, something Capitals new bench boss Todd Reirden has stated he’s not against doing.
Another factor in favor of Siegenthaler making the opening night roster is the fact that the health of stalwart defenseman Michal Kempny is somewhat in question at this moment. Kempny left last night’s game in St. Louis with an undisclosed injury (here), however it is suspected he is dealing with a concussion. As you probably already know, recovery time from concussions varies greatly and is very difficult to forecast. If Kempny is unable to go in the final two preseason games, look for Siegenthaler to be in the opening night roster.
The 21-year old has had a rocky road in recent years, leaving training camp early and returning home to Switzerland in 2016 for “family matters”, and struggled at times with the Bears last season, his first full season in the AHL. However, Siegenthaler has looked sharp since arriving for the Capitals prospect tournament in early September. He looks ready. However, if he shows he’s not ready, he can be sent down to Hershey for a little more seasoning. The risk is minimal at this point.
All NHL teams will need to have their rosters trimmed to 23 by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, October 2, just six days from now. There are still two more preseason game, and things can change on a dime, but don’t be surprised if Jonas Siegenthaler is at Capital One Arena the following night for the Capitals’ season opener.
By Jon Sorensen