Capitals

Quick Links

Marcus Johansson hopeful fractured finger will not require surgery

Marcus Johansson hopeful fractured finger will not require surgery

Nicklas Backstrom scored one goal and one assist on Sunday in Sweden’s win over Denmark, his first game in the World Championship since Washington's elimination from the playoffs.

Absent from the tournament is fellow Swede Marcus Johansson who will not participate due to a fractured finger.

The injury was revealed after Washington was ousted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Johansson said at the team’s breakdown day that he suffered the injury in Game 1 against Pittsburgh.

“It was kind of tough and different, but that's the way it goes,” Johansson said. “There's no excuses. It was a little different, a little tough shooting the puck and handling the puck, but that's the way it goes. I just have to find a way to battle through it. That's playoff hockey.”

RELATED: Caps assistant reportedly will interview with the Panthers

Johansson was careful to keep his hands in his pockets and did not reveal which hand or which finger was injured, though considering he said it was hard to shoot, it most likely happened to his left hand as he is a left-handed shooter.

The injury helps explain why Johansson, who was instrumental in the Caps' first round win over Toronto with five points including two goals in the Game 6 finale, was limited to just three assists against the Penguins. He, however, is making no excuses.

"I think everyone, every team has injuries," Johansson said. "That's just the way it is this time of year so it's something you just kind of have to suck it up."

When asked if the fracture would require surgery, Johansson answered, “I hope not.”

The IIHF World Championship is not given much significance by NHL fans considering most of the best players miss at least some if not all of the tournament due to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This year, however, it has added importance given the fact that the NHL has said it will not participate in the 2018 Olympics.

Being unable to play in the Worlds literally, adds insult to injury for Johansson. As disappointed as he may be, however, he would have gladly missed the tournament to continue playing in the conference finals.

“I think you want to play in the worlds, but when you're playing that's the last thing you want to do,” Johansson said. “You never want to end like this. Now I wish I could have gone, but not much [I can] do about it now. I don't think it would be fair to me or the team or anyone to go now and not be able to really play my best game.”

MORE CAPITALS: Kuznetsov not ready to commit to the Olympics...yet

Quick Links

Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

michal-kempny-blackhawks-usati.png
USA Today Sports Images

Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

On Monday, with the NHL trade deadline approaching, the Washington Capitals addressed a need for blue line depth by acquiring Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

But before you begin to analyze how the move impacts the Capitals' outlook heading forward, lets take some time to get to know the newest member of the Caps.

Who is Michal Kempny?

Michal Kempny is a 27-year-old defenseman from the Czech Republic. He was born on Sept. 8, 1990 in Hodonin, a small town in southwestern Czech Republic near the border of Austria and Slovakia. Kempny began his hockey career playing for SHK Hodonin. Kempny knew very little english upon arriving to the NHL, but credited his girlfriend Showtime shows to helping him become more comfortable speaking the language. 

RELATED: UPDATED NHL POWER RANKINGS

What International Experience Does Michal Kempny Have?

Michal Kempny played professionally for HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga and Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Kempny was a standout player on the international stage, playing for the Czech Republic U18, U20 and Men's National teams.

MORE ON THE TRADE: WHERE DOES KEMPNY FIT IN THE CAPS ROSTER

When Did Michal Kempny Make His NHL Debut?

Michal Kempny was signed to a one-year contract as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Blackhawks in May, 2016 and made his NHL debut in October, 2016. Kempny scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 30, 2016 against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. Kempny appeared in 50 games for the Blackhawks during the 2016-17 season, recording two goals and six assists. The Blackhawks re-signed Kempny to a one-year extension during the offseason. Kempny played in 31 games this season before being traded to the Capitals.

What Type of Hockey Player is Michal Kempny?

Kempny is a 6-0, 194-pound defenseman with a strong left-handed shot. Known for his play on the offensive end, Kempny was never able to gain the trust of Joel Quenneville on the defensive end. But Kempny has a good bit of offensive upside, thanks to his passing skills and strong shot, which is why the Blackhawks took a flier on him in the first place and why he was an ideal trade candidate for the Capitals. But again, Kempny's size is less than ideal for a top-tier blue-liner and while he doesn't shy away from contact, he is rarely much of a physical presence. 

What Does Michal Kempny's Contract Look Like?

Michael Kempny is set to become an unrestricted free agent the the end of the 2017-18 season and has a cap hit of just $900,000.

RELATED: TROTZ REACTS TO RACIAL COMMENTS MADE BY CHICAGO FANS

Quick Links

Where Michael Kempny fits in the Caps' lineup

usatsi_10385432.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Where Michael Kempny fits in the Caps' lineup

If there was one thing the Caps needed to address at the trade deadline, it was defense.

Washington ranks only 20th in the NHL in defense with 2.98 goals against per game. Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos have played well in their rookie seasons, but their play has also been marked with rookie mistakes. To have both in the lineup in the playoffs would present an obvious weakness and matchup opportunities for opposing coaches to exploit.

On Monday, the Caps attempted to address their need for defensive depth by trading for defenseman Michal Kempny, a 27-year-old blue liner with good skating ability and offensive upside.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE LATEST NHL POWER RANKINGS

So what does this mean for the lineup?

Given the immediate need the Caps have on defense, it would not make sense to make a trade for a No. 7 defenseman who won't play. Having Kempny sitting in the press box does not address any of the team's issues on the blue line. Unless Brian MacLellan is planning on making another move, Kempny was brought in to play.

As a left-shot defenseman, he will most likely play on the left. Barry Trotz may ultimately need someone to play someone on their off-side, but asking a player who has played in only 31 games this season to step into a new team and play on the right is a lot to ask.

Let's get this out of the way: Kempny was not brought in to replace Brooks Orpik. His addition will not push Orpik to No. 7 in the lineup. Moving Orpik into the top four, however, certainly does not make this team better. If Orpik is staying put on the third pair, it seems most likely that Kempny will ultimately play to the left of John Carlson.

Here's a possible lineup:

Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny-John Carlson
Christian Djoos-Brooks Orpik

Extras: Taylor Chorney, Madison Bowey

If this is the route the Caps choose to go, this would most likely mean moving Bowey to Hershey for the rest of the regular season as he is still waiver exempt. Placing Chorney on waivers to move him to Hershey, however, would not be out of the question.

MORE CAPITALS: BLACKHAWKS FANS TOSSED AFTER DIRECTING RACIAL REMARKS AT SMITH-PELLY

The Orpik-Bowey pairing has looked slow in recent weeks and moving Djoos to that pair provides a lot more mobility. Trotz will ultimately need to shelter the third pair, but it is easier to shelter one defensive pair than shelter two rookies playing on two different pairs which was the situation facing Washington before the trade for Kempny.

Kempny may start on the third pair and have to work his way up, but, barrig any further moves or glaring chemistry issues, the most likely scenario is that we will ultimately see Kempny in the top-four.

A third-round draft pick may seem like a steep price for a defenseman who played only 31 games this season, but he played well whenever he was in the lineup. If he is able to step into Washington's top-four, that third-round pick ultimately will not look like such a high price tag.