Blueline Pipeline: Review Of Capitals Organizational Depth On Defense Following 2022 NHL Entry Draft And Free Agency


As noted back in May, it’s beneficial to regularly conduct a “big picture” review of an organization’s depth by position in order to gain a better understanding of the positional strengths and weaknesses within the organization. We first detailed the Washington Capitals blueline pipeline back in May (here), but since then, the Capitals have made several additions and subtractions on the backend.

Earlier this week I laid out the Capitals organizational depth chart for the goaltending position. In this post I’ll present the Capitals’ current organizational depth on the blueline. The new depth chart details changes as a result of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and opening of free agency.

This organizational review is meant to provide a general snapshot for assessing the positional depth and the basic attributes of all defensemen within the organization. It’s not intended to be a detailed statistical analysis of the overall potential of a defensive prospect, or provide a forecast for each defensemen or who they will be paired with, which we will cover in follow-up posts before opening night.

WHERE THE BLUELINE STANDS TODAY

The following table presents the Capitals defensemen in tiers (Capitals, Bears and Juniors/NCAA/Other) as it stands today (August 1, 2022). The players are categorized by their natural shooting side and ranking within their respective tiers (not in assigned pairs). [Click to enlarge]

It should be noted that there could be several exchanges in player rankings and assignments following training camp.

Lucas Johansen 

The Capitals added two defensmen, Gabriel Carlsson and Erik Gustafsson, so far in 2022 free agency. It’s likely that both will compete with Lucas Johansen for a 7th or 8th defenseman role. The winner will get the opening night roster spot while the other two will likely head to Hershey.

Alex Alexeyev

Things will be remain fluid during the first half of the season, as it is expected Alex Alexeyev will also get a look with the Capitals when he returns from surgery and a short rehab stint in Hershey. Alexeyev has the advantage over Johansen, and possibly Carlsson and Gustafssson, as he plays very well on both sides. He has demonstrated this during his season in the KHL and last season with Hershey.

Additional Changes?

It’s still possible the Capitals try to add one additional veteran blueliner before opening night rolls around. In the grand scheme of things, the Capitals jettisoned two very experienced blueliners in Justin Schultz and Michal Kempny, which was expected and wise. However, they back-filled with two middle-to-lower tier defensemen in Gustafsson and Carlsson. Will that be enough?

One could easily argue the Capitals Blueline is weaker right now than it was on the last game of the 2022 postseason. What can’t be argued is the fact that the blueline got younger and cheaper since the end of the postseason.

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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11 Responses to Blueline Pipeline: Review Of Capitals Organizational Depth On Defense Following 2022 NHL Entry Draft And Free Agency

  1. Anonymous says:

    Still thin on the right side, but better than it was before draft and free agency.

  2. Esteban says:

    Oh please no…..we can’t go into this season with Irwin, Carlsson or Gustafsson playing any significant minutes…..this will be a disaster.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Caps need one more solid D.. Cant afford Chykrin but it would be nice…

  4. DWGie26 says:

    Definitely need something on the right side. Sure hope there is another move coming. I’d love to move AJF for a 3/4 RD in the 24-27 age range who has some NHL call-up potential. That would be about equivalent to AJF who is a tweener ready for 4th line duty and as a PKer. We won’t be able to pass AJF through waivers again, but I also don’t think he’ll be able to earn a spot. And I don’t want to play him. I prefer Mojo, Eller, or Malenstyn in that position.

    • steven says:

      You can have the retread MoJo as I have no use for him. Would rather have AJF or Malenstyn in that position. I have to believe that you will see Eller and/or MoJo traded probably for an older RD (30-34) with just about the same price tag and about 1 year left on the contract as both MoJo and Eller do and knowing the GM he will toss in a 2nd, 3rd or 4th round pick.

  5. Dan+Hornbaker says:

    if the 6th defenseman on your NHL team is your concern, then things are okay. I like AA and Johansen to get the spot (Johansen first since he is healthy). If he struggles, the give to AA when he is healthy. A below average vet in the spot is a waste of time.

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