Quick Links

Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Defensive Prospects

Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Defensive Prospects


As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL regular season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir will analyze potential breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and the Metropolitan Division. 

Today they're discussing the Defensive prospects who right now may rank behind Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey but still have a good shot at earning some playing time in Washington this winter.

The Capitals have a littany of young, talented defensemen working their way up the ranks. Which ones can we expect to see get called up and who still has work to do?

PROSPECT PREVIEWS: Jakub Vrana | Nathan Walker | Chandler Stephenson | Christian Djoos | Madison Bowey


Tyler Lewington
Age: 22
Height: 6-1 
Weight: 189 
Contract: Two-Way. Three-year, $665,000 (2015)
AHL Seasons: 2 (104 games)
2016-17 AHL Stats: 72 games, 4 goals, 13 assists, +16 plus/minus, 142 penalty minutes

Connor Hobbs
Age: 20
Height: 6-0
Weight: 196
Contract: Two-Way. Three-year, $720,000 (2016)
WHL Seasons: 4 (180 games)
2016-17 WHL Stats: 67 games, 31 goals, 54 assists, +30 plus/minus, 92 penalty minues

Lucas Johansen
Age: 19
Height: 6-1 
Weight: 174
Contract: Two-Way. Three-year, $925,000 (2017)
WHL Seasons: 3 (202 games)
2016-17 WHL Stats: 68 games, 6 goals, 35 assists, +23 plus/minus, 39 penalty minutes

Jonas Siegenthaler
Age: 20
Height: 6-3
Weight: 220
Contract: Two-Way. Three-year, $714,000 (2015)
AHL Seasons: 2 (13 games)
2016-17 AHL Stats: 7 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, +2 plus/minus, 2 penalty minutes

PREVIEWING 2017-18 BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: Tom Wilson | Brett Connolly | Andre Burakovsky

Tarik El-Bashir's Prospect Preview:

One of the primary battles to watch in the Capitals 2017-18 training camp will be contested on the blue line, where the departures of Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Kevin Shattenkirk have created some opportunities for the organization’s young players.

As the roster stands now, there are five defensemen under contract for next season—Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney. That, obviously, creates a couple of holes, if you include the spare.

We’ve already mentioned that Aaron Ness, 27, figures to get a good, long look in camp. He’s got more NHL experience—39 games—than anyone not currently on the Caps’ roster. His salary ($612,500) makes him an attractive option for a team that’s up against the cap ceiling.

After Ness it gets interesting. There are top prospects Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey, whom we’ve already profiled this month. The organization has a high opinion of both.

Who’s behind Djoos and Bowey? Entering camp, that list seems to be Tyler Lewington, Connor Hobbs, Lucas Johansen and Jonas Siegenthaler.

Lewington, 22, is a rugged blue liner with a mean streak who was assessed a team-high 142 penalty minutes in 72 games last season. Hershey’s coaches love his physicality and how he stands up for his teammates. The thought is that he’s a guy Washington would like to get into a regular-season game sooner rather than later.

After Lewington are Hobbs and Johansen, both of whom are looking to make the jump from junior to the AHL.

Hobbs, 20, turned heads last season by putting up 31 goals and 54 assists in 67 games with Regina of the WHL. He’s got an NHL-caliber shot, a crisp breakout pass and he impressed the Caps' staff in development camp this summer with his vastly improved physical conditioning. The faster he translates his scoring ability to the pro level, the faster he’ll find himself in Washington.  

Johansen, 19, also made a positive impression in development camp. In addition to displaying the kind of solid all-around game you’d expect from a first-round pick, he packed about 10 pounds onto his 6-2 frame and was up to around 188 pounds. Continuing to bulk up and improve his strength as he battles bigger, stronger forwards at the next level.

Siegenthaler, 20, probably lags a little behind the others, but that's mostly due to his need to adapt to the North American game after spending the bulk of the last few seasons in his native Switzerland. At 6-3, 230-pounds, he’s got NHL size and his footspeed was noticeably quicker at development camp. Like some of the other youngsters, he was also in better physical condition when compared to a year ago.

When will this next group of blue line prospects get their shot?

The evaluation process begins in earnest at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in mid-September. But even if none of them manages to pull off a surprise and seize a spot on the big club’s roster, I suspect we’ll see a couple of them on call-up duty at various points during the season.

RELATED: Ranking the 10 best Capitals players of all time

Quick Links

We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington


We have ourselves a goalie rotation in Washington

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”

Quick Links

NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

USA Today Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.