A Capitals team with limited cap space coming into free agency continues to add to its roster as the team signed right defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a 1-year, $800,000 deal on Saturday.
Van Riemsdyk, 29, has spent the last three seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes, but began his career with the Chicago Blackhawks. It appeared he was on his way towards being a top-four defenseman when he was selected by Vegas in the expansion draft and traded to Carolina, but his career trajectory halted with the Hurricanes where he struggled to earn a larger role on a crowded blue line. He averaged just 14:52 of ice time in 2019-20.
His struggles, however, are likely why Washington was able to land him at such a cheap price. A one-year deal for only $800,000 is very much a "prove it" type deal that carries a low cost for the Caps and the possibility of a high reward.
But Van Riemsdyk's deal has other implications to it as it likely means the Caps will be trading a defenseman in the coming days.
With the moves the team made on Friday adding Henrik Lundqvist and Justin Schultz for a combined cap hit of $5.5 million, the Caps were in a position where they had to move salary already. The addition of van Riemsdyk is an indication of what part of the roster general manager Brian MacLellan will be looking to move.
With van Riemsdyk, the Caps now have six defensemen under contract plus the team has the rights of restricted free agent Jonas Siegenthaler who the team is expected to re-sign. Martin Fehervary is also expected to make the jump to the NHL next season. That's eight, so a full lineup plus two. That's one extra defenseman on a team that needs to move salary so one of those eight blue liners is likely on his way out. Even if this is an indication that the team wants Fehervary to remain in the AHL for another season, taking him out of the equation would still put the Caps in a position where they would have to clear cap space in order to re-sign Siegenthaler and add a 13th forward. Someone has to go.
Does the addition of two right defensemen in free agency mean the team is moving on from Nick Jensen? Or could the team look to move a player with a larger cap hit land likely more trade value in Dmitry Orlov?
Regardless of who it is, Saturday's move seems like a clear indication that a trade on the blue line is coming for Washington.