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Capitals bolster their blue line by adding right-shot Nick Jensen in trade with Red Wings

Capitals bolster their blue line by adding right-shot Nick Jensen in trade with Red Wings

Just one day after adding Carl Hagelin to the roster, the Capitals remained busy by acquiring right-shot defenseman Nick Jensen and a fifth-round draft pick from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Madison Bowey and a second-round draft pick in 2020.

Once the trade was made official, the Caps were quick to lock up their new acquisition, re-signing Jensen to a four-year, $10 million contract, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan.

The fifth round pick the Caps receive was originally from the Buffalo Sabres. Darren Dreger was the first to report the trade. 

Brian MacLellan has added at least one defenseman at the trade deadline every year as the Caps’ general manager and this year is now no different. After the home run acquisition of Michal Kempny for cheap last season, the Caps again went for another depth move, though the cost for Jensen proved to be substantially steeper.

Jensen, 28, is a very stout defensive player and a strong skater. He does not add much offensively (two goals, 13 assists in 60 games), but the fact that he is a right-shot defenseman is of huge value.

Prior to the trade, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Madison Bowey were the only right-handed players among the team’s eight defensemen (including Jonas Siegenthaler, though he is in Hershey). Bowey had seemingly fallen down the depth chart this season and has played in only 33 games.

Jensen does not just add right-shot depth, he adds options.

Jensen is primarily a third-pair defenseman and is likely to play alongside Brooks Orpik, but, given the struggles of the second pair this season and Niskanen in particular, having Jensen could ease some of the pressure on that pair. Jensen is not going to supplant Niskanen in the top-four, but he can play on the penalty kill and be leaned upon to play significant minutes. He averaged 20:48 of ice time with the Red Wings.

If MacLellan was looking for a low-risk, high reward addition, Jensen seems to fit the bill. It doesn’t get much cheaper than Jensen’s total cap hit of $812,500. The price to get him was high, but adding a right-shot defenseman who can be relied upon to play consistently on the third pair is a value add.

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Madison Bowey expects 'chills' when Caps return to Las Vegas

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Madison Bowey expects 'chills' when Caps return to Las Vegas

When Madison Bowey and the Capitals travel next week to Las Vegas - the place where they clinched the Stanley Cup last season - he expects to get "chills, for sure."

"I know that was a moment that you know I close my eyes before bed or whatever that's something you just picture, is definitely seeing Ovi lift that Cup and seeing how excited he was and then just getting my chance and getting the Cup and being able to lift it up," Bowey said on Capitals Talk podcast. 

"That's something that was the most surreal thing that ever happened in my life. You almost black out for a second, it was just so amazing. I think getting back in that rink will be special for our whole team."

Bowey also spoke a bit about the tougher parts of his career. Like his NHL debut against Philadelphia last season, he said, which didn't go exactly as planned and left him frustrated. But a moment in the car driving with his dad changed his whole perspective.

"I was pissed. I honestly didn't talk to anyone, head buried, sped. I wanted to get there as quick as I can. So I picked up [my dad], and he said 'don't worry about it. He said you achieved your lifetime goal and that's to play in the NHL.' Right then and there I figured you know what, it was just one game but in the end I did play in my first NHL game and that's not something that too many people can say they did. So after that I just put it behind me really quick and moved on from there."

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Key Caps questions: Who will play on the team's third defensive pair?

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Key Caps questions: Who will play on the team's third defensive pair?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals correspondent JJ Regan is here to help you through the offseason doldrums as he discusses key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: What will be the team's primary third defensive pairing?

Barring any PTOs or breakout performances in training camp, we can reasonably assume Brooks Orpik, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey are going to be the three players battling it out to be on the third pair.

General manager Brian MacLellan went through some salary cap gymnastics to get Orpik back for next season at a much smaller cap hit, Djoos played 22 playoff games in the Caps’ Stanley Cup run and Bowey was signed to a one-way, two-year contract for $1 million per year. Clearly, all three are expected to be on the Caps’ roster next season and play a role, but that role will be limited considering the top-four is pretty much set with Michal Kempny-John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen.

Orpik will be 38 years old at the start of the season. His on and off-ice contributions are much greater than many were willing to acknowledge, but he was never a fast player and at his age, holding him to 60 games or fewer will make him a more effective player.

Djoos and Bowey are 24 and 23 respectively and, while both are ready for bigger roles, both are far from finished products. While they may be part of the future of Washington’s blue line, putting in two young, second-year players as their own pair is a risk.

But even if head coach Todd Reirden is not ready to turn the reins over to his two young defensemen just yet, he still needs to get both players plenty of playing time.

This is why Orpik may get a lot more playing time than many people think. The best thing for both Djoos and Bowey is for them to play. If you have concerns about them playing together, however, and neither is ready to supplant anyone in the top four, then you are going to see them cycle in and out of the lineup fairly frequently to play alongside Orpik.

That’s not to say we will never see a Djoos-Bowey pairing this season. They will probably have their chances and the better they look, the longer that pair will last. If they were ready, it would be a safe assumption that they would get the bulk of games together with Orpik serving more of a reserve role.

But a Djoos-Bowey pairing would be too vulnerable to opposing offenses at least at the start of the season and so we should expect a lot of Orpik.

While Reirden will work his defensive magic to bring Djoos-Bowey along as quickly as possible, I would anticipate Orpik-Djoos will see a majority of games this season as the team’s third defensive pairing.

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