Alexeyev shoulder surgery widens blue line competition


Capitals prospect Alexander Alexeyev will miss four-to-five months after he underwent labral repair surgery on his left shoulder. The team announced the operation last week, as the team’s 2018 first-round pick is on a timeline to miss training camp and return at some point between mid-October and mid-November.

In the 2021-22 season, Alexeyev played in 68 games and scored 19 points. It was his second full season in the AHL, as he spent the 2020-21 season in the KHL on loan. 

And with Alexeyev on the shelf, the Capitals’ blue line for the 2022-23 season got a bit murkier as an option for a daily starter will have to wait a bit longer. 

Alexeyev, a left-handed shot, looked primed to be in contention for a spot on the left side of the blue line to pair with Trevor van Riemsdyk on the third pair. Now, the Capitals could begin training camp with a battle on the blue line that’s more wide open than previously thought.

One option is another first-round pick in Lucas Johansen, who is a restricted free agent. Johansen put together a healthy season with the Hershey Bears and played more games (62) than he had in the previous three seasons combined. He could be an option to fill in that slot vacated if pending UFA Justin Schultz departs. 

Two more in-house options are Bobby Nardella, who is under contract, and Matt Irwin, who is an unrestricted free agent. Both played in the organization in the 21-22 seasons and could play a role next season as well. 


But with five NHL defensemen under contract for next season, and four of them entering contract years, the Capitals could opt for long-term stability in free agency and at the draft. Meaning that there could be a blue line shakeup, or solidifying, on the horizon.