Every player on an NHL team plays a role. Some play bigger roles than others.
In the coming weeks, Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.
Today’s player: No. 25 Aaron Ness
With the departure of Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Kevin Shattenkirk, the Capitals have a few holes on their blue line. Most people have prospects Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos penciled in for big roles this season, but don’t forget about Aaron Ness.
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At 27 years old, Ness has spent the majority of his career in the AHL and has established himself as a depth defenseman. He is likely not the first player people think of when thinking of options for the Caps on defense, but he will get a long look at training camp and could get a significant role this season.
Among the prospects who will be competing for playing time with the Caps, Ness is the most experienced with 39 NHL games under his belt. He is also the cheapest with a cap hit of only $612,500. That’s below the NHL’s current minimum salary of $650,000. It does not get cheaper than that. With Washington still tight against the cap, Ness’ salary will make him an attractive option to fill the lineup.
As someone who has to pass through waivers, Ness could very likely start the season with the NHL club as a cheap, veteran insurance policy for the Caps.