In need of a top-pair left defenseman, the Capitals re-signed defenseman Brenden Dillon to a four-year contract that will carry a cap hit of $3.9 million. The team announced the signing on Tuesday.
Elliotte Friedman reported in September that the Caps were trying to move money in order to re-sign Dillon, but Tuesday's news that Michal Kempny will be on LTIR with a torn Achilles tendon suddenly frees up some cap space. While Kempny's salary is not technically off the books, it will allow the Caps to go over the salary cap if needed so long as he remains on LTIR.
Dillon was a trade deadline acquisition by the Caps in 2020 and, though the team was not able to get out of the first round, he was a good addition to the blue line. He went from a rental to someone the Caps needed to re-sign when Kempny continued to struggled after the pause in the season.
Kempny underwent surgery to repair a torn hamstring in April 2019 and struggled in the following season. Even after a long pause from March to August due to the coronavirus, Kempny continued to struggle when play resumed meaning the team had to find a new top-pair defenseman to play alongside John Carlson for the upcoming season. With a $3.9 million cap hit, Dillon was likely cheaper than most top-pair defensemen and better than most cheap defensemen making him an ideal fit for the cap-strapped Capitals.
The initial release from the team does not mention a no-movement or no-trade clause so it does not appear that he has one, though this is not yet confirmed. If he does not have a NMC, the team will not be compelled to protect him from the Seattle expansion draft in 2021. Signing a top-pair player for four years, however, suggests he would probably make that list regardless of whether he has a NMC or not.