Four Offseason Moves By The Capitals That Hit The Bullseye – Addition By Subtraction

If you’ve followed NoVa Caps for any decent amount of time, you know we call it like we see it, and will criticize when criticism is necessary. This includes any questionable moves made by Capitals General Manager Brian McLellan. We’ve done our fair share of critical analysis on him.

However, “call it like you see it” also includes giving credit where credit is due, and so far this season, a series of steps/moves made by MacLellan this past offseason appears to have hit the bullseye. All four of the moves are related to upgrading the Capitals defense, all while reducing the overall hit to the Capitals bottom line (salary cap). Upgrading with less money? A very tall order by any means.


1. Not Re-signing Zdeno Chara – Chara became a fan favorite during his short time in in the district, and his play at times was decent. He also brought a good amount of grit and physicality to the Capitals’ blueline. However, the Capitals decided to pass on re-signing the 44-year old this past offseason, even when there was a perceived need on the roster. Chara would sign with the Islanders and early reports are that it’s not going well for Chara on the Island, as maybe his time in the league may finally be drawing to a close.

2. Trading Brenden Dillon – Dillon was also somewhat of a fan favorite, and a good teammate when he was in Washington. He, like Chara, brought a good amount of grit to the Capitals, something Brian MacLellan has stated several times is a necessity when the playoffs begin. Trading Dillon to Winnipeg for two second draft picks is looking like a genius move at this point. The move also saved the Capitals $3.9 million in cap space. Yes, it’s early in the season, but so far, the Capitals have not missed Dillon on the backend, and have certainly needed the extra cash.

3. Elevating Trevor van Riemsdyk To Everyday Starter – this move seemed fairly obvious by the end of last season. The Capitals quickly signed “TVR” to a deal in the middle of last season, possibly projecting their future plans for him on the backend. TVR and Justin Schultz have been excellent so far this season, and are arguably the Capitals best pairing.

4. Elevating Martin Fehervary To Everyday Starter – Maclellan made it clear at the end of last season that he and the Capitals were looking for Fehervary to step into a starters role this season. Fehervary was ready, and the step seemed obvious, but you never truly know what you have until the player plays in games. Fehervary has been solid in the Capitals first eight games, playing top pair minutes with John Carlson. The risk was there, but it seems to be paying off.


We are only eight games into the season, but the four aforementioned moves seemed to have been exactly what the Capitals needed to do to resurrect their blueline. The defense lost a decent amount of grit and physicality with the departure of Dillon and Chara, but they have been replaced with speed and agility. As for how the Capitals would do in the postseason, where grit and physicality are at a higher premium, that remains to be seen.

MacLellan gets top marks for this series of moves. The defense has improved, all while reducing the the team’s salary demands. The only real question would be could these moves have been made at the beginning of last season?

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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13 Responses to Four Offseason Moves By The Capitals That Hit The Bullseye – Addition By Subtraction

  1. Brent says:

    This is the best Caps blog out there. My favorite part is its all about the caps. Not former caps or non hockey/sports issues. Thank you

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Thanks Brent, that’s greatly appreciated. 👊

    • redLitYogi says:

      agreed on the content part: this blog puts out the most information and does — by far — the best job of reporting on the prospects. The work here is greatly appreciated and it has, I think, an important role in the small constellation of Caps blogs. Which makes me a little mystified as to why there aren’t any comments here from readers. It could be that having to re-enter credentials each time you want to comment or reply puts drag on the emergence of comments threads, but having a vibrant commenting community could do a lot for this blog, I think. We don’t even have to name which Caps blog gets the most clicks (I assume it does, anyway) but I’m thinking that site’s addictive comments threads are the reason it does so well.

  2. Diane Doyle says:

    Sometimes it’s time to let the youth have a chance. That was true in letting Chara and Dillon go. Caps were at the point to where they had too many guys at age 30-31 around. But had to clear some away. (So when will Alexeyev get his chance?)

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  5. redLitYogi says:

    good piece. What also hinders the development of players in an organization is lack of opportunity. It took getting rid of Panik to get Sprong a chance to play. It took getting rid of Dillon and not signing Chara for Fehervary and TvR to play. Given how good Fehervary and TvR have been here, I’m mystified as to why they didn’t get more and better chances. We now have a talented defenseman who cannot get into a game — Cholowski — and the longer he sits, the less useful he’ll be when he gets the sweater. Are we repeating this same mistake with him?

    • DWGie26 says:

      The problem (this year) is who sits? The dee is playing really well so there is no need for a change. Last year some change was needed but we had no cap space to do any moves. That said, TVR was here and should have played.

      We have a lot of left side prospects in Cholowski, Nardella, Gessier, Alexyev, and hell, even Lucas Johannson looks to be starting to bloom. don’t forget about Kempny as NHL depth, but he’ll be gone after this year.

  6. DWGie26 says:

    I too really like this blog. Especially on the prospects as I follow that a fair bit. The comments, while few, are much more credible and enjoyable. Wish there was more. I only occasionally chime because there just isn’t’ much chatter so usually anonymous, but i actually signed in today. 🙂

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  8. Beard Up Beer Down says:

    Agreed, favourite Caps blog. Short and to the point, and always informed.

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