The Capitals have re-signed defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a two-year deal with a cap hit of $950,000, the team announced on Sunday morning.
This is van Riemsdyk's first season in Washington. The 29-year-old blueliner has played largely a depth role for the team and has appeared in only nine games with one point.
There is always value in a right-shot defenseman, but the move raises some questions as it is hard to see where van Riemsdyk fits in the lineup in the future. Presumably, the Caps are not going to perpetually carry eight defensemen as they are now during the pandemic, so it is hard to see where the playing time will come from with John Carlson, Justin Schultz and Nick Jensen all signed for next season. In his past two games, van Riemsdyk played only a combined 7:51 with head coach Peter Laviolette not wanting to split up his current top six.
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Already facing a cap crunch, Washington just gave a $150,000 raise to a depth defenseman. Does this mean another defenseman is soon to come off the books? It seems likely this will happen in the offseason at the latest, especially with players like Jonas Siegenthaler, Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev also vying for a role next season.
This extension could also be insurance with the expansion draft looming.
While Carlson will certainly be protected, the Caps will only be able to protect three defensemen (assuming they take the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie over eight skaters and a goalie). Either Schultz or Jensen, perhaps even both, will have to be left exposed to Seattle.
Regardless of why the extension was done, this move signals something we already knew that the blue line is going to look different next season. There are just too many bodies there. What this means is you can take van Riemsdyk off the list of players the team could consider moving on from.