Amid a flurry of trade deadline moves Tuesday, the Capitals retained one of their own in signing defenseman Nick Jensen to a three-year, $12.15 million extension that ensures they will carry over at least three blue-liners into next season.
Washington began the day with only one defenseman signed past 2022-23 in John Carlson, who hasn’t played since taking a puck to the side of his head Dec. 23. GM Brian MacLellan then swung a trade for Rasmus Sandin from the Toronto Maple Leafs, obtaining the promising young skater’s two-year deal that will see him be a restricted free agent in 2014.
Now, Jensen will join Carlson and Sandin on the Capitals’ roster next season instead of testing free agency this summer. The 32-year-old has enjoyed a strong campaign as a steady contributor despite the mounting injuries that have cycled through players around him. Jensen enters play Wednesday already having set career highs in assists (22), points (24) and hits (110).
The Capitals also have the chance to retain restricted free agent Martin Fehervary, who is only a year older than Sandin at 23. Should they work something out with Fehervary long-term, that would give the Capitals two left-shot and two-right shot defensemen under contract.
With two days before the trade deadline, there are plenty of moves still on the table for MacLellan. The Capitals have traded four players thus far, all of whom were on expiring contracts. Another player in the same situation is Trevor van Riemsdyk, a key member of their penalty-killing unit who, like Jensen, has appeared in every game this season.
Having already signed three pending free agents to long-term extensions (Jensen, Dylan Strome, Sonny Milano) while trading four (Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway, Erik Gustafsson, Marcus Johansson), the Capitals haven’t waited until the offseason to start putting together their roster for 2023-24 and beyond. They’ve used the trade deadline to recoup some value on players that could’ve left for nothing while retooling for next season on the fly.
Nowhere has that been more evident than the blue line, which suddenly has two fewer slots left to be filled and two full pairings stocked with both younger talent and established veterans.