Joel Edmundson Brings Much-Needed Size And Grit To Capitals Blueline

Photo: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The storylines surrounding the Washington Capitals’ offseason have focused on getting younger, faster and to start looking towards the future. However, the acquisition of 30-year-old defenseman Joel Edmundson, didn’t quite fit that narrative. 

Washington traded a 2024 third-round pick and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for the Brandon, MB native. The Habs are retaining 50% of his salary. Edmundson has one year left on his four-year, $14 million extension he signed back in September 2020.

“When we were going through the free-agent market and the trade market, he’s an element that we wanted to add to our lineup,” President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Brian MacLellan said at 2023 Capitals Development Camp. “Physical. Net front presence. Good leader. Has some good size.”

Washington had a tough time clearing the crease because of the lack of size on defense, and it made the lives of Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren extremely difficult at times. Prior to his arrival, the biggest defensemen on the team was the 6’4” Alex Alexeyev. So Edmundson’s 6’5” frame fits the criteria for what MacLellan was looking for.

He will also help the Capitals’ penalty kill, which was 11th in the NHL at 81.9%.

“Just being solid in front of the goalie and just making sure he can see the puck,” Edmundson said on July 1. “I love to use my stick to my defense, with some cross checks and make the opposition’s night miserable.”

Furthermore, Edmundson brings a veteran presence to the left side of the defense, which features 23-year-olds Martin Fehervary and Rasmus Sandin, along with 23-year-old  Alexeyev.

The 2019 Stanley Cup champion had 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 61 games last year, but had a minus-29 rating. That was probably due to Montreal struggling, defensively.

In addition to bringing a big frame and leadership abilities, Edmundson gives Caps head coach Spencer Carbery flexibility with his defense pairings.

“He’s been a top-four guy at one point. He’s been a bottom pair guy, too,” MacLellan said. “We’re going to come in and see how the coaches want to use matchups, who’s playing together. He’ll get a shot to play with different guys and see how it works out, see who has chemistry and go from there.”

The big question with the 221-pound blueliner is his health. For a team that battled so many injuries last season, and a big factor in why the Capitals missed the playoffs, this could be a concern. Edmundson sustained an upper-body injury in late January and it held him out for 11 games. He also has a history of low-back issues.

Despite the questions regarding his health and age, Edmundson brings useful tools to Washington’s lineup. For a team that is not the fastest, and struggles to keep up with quick teams like the New Jersey Devils, physicality is one of the answers to slow down those teams.

Edmundson fits that bill and will look to make an instant impact in D.C. 

By Jacob Cheris

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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5 Responses to Joel Edmundson Brings Much-Needed Size And Grit To Capitals Blueline

  1. hockeydruid says:

    How true, this signing does not fit in what the Caps say they want to do. Neither does the Pacioretty signing especially since he is on IR whit no time frame to return. Seems to me that the owner is just looking to sign names and spend money. As the next 5-7 years are going to be a learning and growing time I fail to see why Management refuses to play the kids in Hershey but instead keeps not only signing older players but thinking that they are a legitimate Cup contender in their division. I am beginning to think that when PL didn’t want to play rookies that was OK with the GM and fit into his plan. To me if you are going to dumpster dive why not play your young guys to see what you have and just maybe they will show you something.

    • Jacob Cheris says:

      Hi hockeydruid. Thanks for reading. I do agree that the younger guys like Alexeyev should be regular’s this year. Alexeyev I thought looked really good in the second half. But in my opinion I think there might be some risk when playing a bunch of young defensemen.

      Like I said in the article, Sandin and Fehervary are young and are on the left side, and are both good players. So I think bringing a guy like Edmundson who is physical will help the team and those guys develop.

      However, as we know, someone is bound to get hurt. The young guys will play and get more minutes under Carbery. So there are definitely pros and cons to Edmundson’s addition. Just have to wait and see!

  2. Jim Sawyer says:

    Bad take. You seem to favor young, unproven players..

    • horn73 says:

      Here here Jim. Druid is notorious for wanting the Caps to be an AHL team, he should just start rooting for Arizona. A quote from an agent that folks like Druid don’t seem to understand.

      • “Treat the players like humans. I think owners don’t take into consideration how much the locker room looks around and sees how ownership treats players. Treats their stars and their bottom players. … No matter what you did internally with Washington’s franchise, until you cut off the head of the snake, it was all going to trickle down and not be a good place to work. The opposite is true. If you have ownership that’s treating people right and doing right by you, then it’s going to trickle down as well.”

  3. DC Scappeli says:

    Well, if he can help clear the crease, I’m for it. Protect the net! Let’s get some nastiness on the back end and dole out some hits. Maybe he can be an example to the younger guys? Since Orlov is gone, someone has to hit too besides Fehevary.

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