The Capitals have assigned veteran defenseman Michal Kempny to the Hershey Bears of the AHL, pending waiver clearance, the team announced Saturday.
In Kempny’s absence, the remaining rostered defenseman in Washington are John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Justin Schultz, Nick Jensen, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Martin Fehervary, and Matt Irwin. Assigning Kempny to the minors allows the Capitals to clear up to $1.125 million of the $2.5 million he is slated to earn this season.
The roster move comes on the heels of what has been a disappointing two years for the 31-year-old Kempny. After winning the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018, Kempny inked a four-year, $10 million contract to stay in Washington.
Since then, his career has been largely derailed by injuries. He tore his Achilles tendon while training back home in the Czech Republic for the 2021 NHL season. Kempny played in rehabilitation games last spring with Hershey in preparation for an NHL return, but suffered another blow after colliding with an ice scraper. All of that followed Kempny's torn hamstring that ended his 2019 season just three weeks before the Stanley Cup playoffs began.
Kempny did everything in his power to battle back from his more recent injuries, eventually becoming healthy enough to practice and then appear in Washington’s preseason games this fall. However, he's struggled in his return to NHL action so far.
In his first game back on Sept. 29, he finished with a minus-1 vs. the New Jersey Devils -- a game in which he was on the ice for three of New Jersey’s five goals. In the team’s preseason finale vs. the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night, Kempny conceded several key turnovers which resulted in goal-scoring opportunities.
With Kempny out of the picture in Washington for now, it’s likely young defenseman Martin Fehervary will take some of that leftover ice time. Fehervary, who turned 22 on Wednesday, appeared in six NHL games during the 2019-20 season and notched one point. He was a 2018 second-round draft pick by the Caps.