Primary goals for the Washington Capitals heading into the 2023-24 season center on getting faster, younger and for a few of their prospects to graduate and become full-time NHL players. There is a lot of competition heading into training camp in September, with numerous prospects seeking spots on the roster.
One player that has the potential to take a big step in his career is defenseman Alexander Alexeyev. The 23-year-old blue-liner played 32 games this past season, due in large part to the injury bug that plagued the Capitals. Washington signed the Russian defensemen to a two-year, one-way contract extension in the offseason, so, barring a trade or waivers, he will be with the big club all season.
The 6-foot-4 defenseman was utilized heavily after the trade deadline. From Mar. 1 till the end of the season, Alexeyev had three assists and was a plus-1. However, former head coach Peter Laviolette used him sporadically in a lot of “on the fly” shifts.
Alex Alexeyev – 2022-23 Season
One of Alexeyev’s best games of the 2022-23 season was on Dec. 27 in a 4-0 win on the road against the New York Rangers. Even though he did not register a point, he was all over the ice in the defensive zone. He broke up plays with his long reach, he blocked two shots and even had a prime scoring chance that hit the post.
Alexeyev’s best paring was with Trevor van Riemsdyk. In 25 games, the duo created 17 high-danger scoring chances and had an xGF of 4.18. That should be the pair moving forward if Alexeyev’s name is called upon.
He was least successful with Fehervary. When paired together, they gave up five high-danger goals and had a whopping 5.07 xGA.
So while his defensive game is relatively strong, he needs to improve his offensive game heading into the season. Alexeyev looked more confident as the season progressed, but there is plenty of room to grow as he heads into his third season with Washington. His ice time should be more consistent, which should help his confidence as well.
Right now, the Capitals’ defensive core has a mix of veterans and youth. The right side features John Carlson, Nick Jensen and Trevor van Riemsdyk. The left side is the youthful side, which features three 23-year-olds in Alexeyev, Martin Fehervary and Rasmus Sandin. The acquisition of 30-year-old rear-guard Joel Edmundson will help bring sturdiness and physicality to the left side.
Alexeyev is expected to be a full participant in training camp this year after missing last year’s due to a labral repair procedure he underwent last June that forced him to miss 4-5 months.
Before the Capitals added Edmundson, Alexeyev was projected to be a third-pairing guy, but his role this season got a lot tougher. However, if someone goes down with an injury, he will be the next man up.
By Jacob Cheris