With July coming to an end the Washington Capitals have made some moves to improve their bottom six and their defense. However, with these moves and the re-signings of forwards Jakub Vrana and Chandler Stephenson, and defenseman Christian Djoos the Capitals have put themselves into a bit of a Cap crunch.
Currently the Capitals stand with $1.3mil over the Salary Cap, which is fine for now as teams are allowed to be 10% over the Cap up until the start of the regular season. Obviously with the arbitration cases of Djoos and Stephenson the end results were a little higher than some expected and rightfully so. Djoos was awarded a one year $1.25mil contract, while Stephenson got a one year $1.05mil contract. I’m no math wizard, but I see where we have our $1.3mil Cap issue.
Now hear me out here because this may get complicated, but last I checked both Djoos and Stephenson did not get a lot of playing time as the season came near an end and the playoffs wore on. Now many will bring up the fact that Djoos was injured for a good amount of the regular season, but yet once he was back in the lineup, specifically in the playoffs, Djoos couldn’t get more than seven minutes a game. Another thing that didn’t help Djoos’ case was that Jonas Siegenthaler played Djoos out of th lineup. Once Siegenthaler replaced Djoos in the lineup in the first round against Carolina, Siegenthaler played more minutes in one game than what Djoos averaged in the playoffs as a whole. So to me, unless Djoos has a stellar training camp, Siegenthaler is your sixth defenseman this upcoming season and Djoos is expendable now.
Now for Stephenson, to me he became expendable when Travis Boyd started getting more playing time. Stephenson this past season also didn’t exceed in his sophmore year like he did in his rookie campaign where he was an integral part to the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup. With the Capitals signing Garnet Hathaway, Richard Panik, and Brendan Leipsic this pushes both Stephenson and Boyd out of the equation.
So how would I fix this? Great question. First thing I’d do is clear out the $1.3mil in Cap space that is putting us over the Cap, and how I would do that is by trading both Djoos and Stephenson for draft picks. Yes, draft picks. You can never have too many draft picks. So with those two trades you clear out the $1.3mil, next thing I would do is send down Travis Boyd via waivers and call up Shane Gersich who is a lesser Cap hit by $100k. Now here is where it gets tricky for the Capitals. Who would be the seventh defenseman once Djoos has been traded? I’ve heard Tyler Lewington’s name thrown around and being how he has a cheap Cap hit, it would work, however, there is still no wiggle room which means the Capitals are going to need to make another trade and give a young guy a spot. Particularly on offense. Who would I trade? I honestly don’t know, and that’s why I’m not the general manager.
One thing is for sure, Brian MacLellan is working the phones and is looking to get his team under the Cap and with some wiggle room to do call ups in case of an injury. It will be an interesting time leading up to training camp in September, and will be very interesting to see what moves MacLellan will make in that time.