To say the Washington Capitals need a defensive upgrade is an understatement. They will have to look for improvements in free agency if they want to have a chance at getting back into the playoffs next season. One name they could look at as a cheap pickup is Jason Demers, who has spent most of the season with the Edmonton Oilers American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors.
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The Metropolitan Division is stacked, so bringing in a veteran shutdown defenseman like Demers could help the Capitals immensly. He has had a standout season defensively with the Condors this season, so giving him an opportunity in the NHL to finish out his career would be beneficial for both himself and the team.
Who Is Jason Demers & How Does He Benefit the Capitals?
Demers is a 34-year-old right-shot defenseman from Dorval, Quebec currently under contract with the Oilers. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks at 186th overall. He played three full seasons with the Sharks before they traded him to the Dallas Stars during the 2014-15 season, but he has also played with the Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes.
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He has exactly 700 games under his belt, and has scored 45 goals and added 169 assists in those games. He played his junior career split between the Moncton Wildcats and Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and was even named alternate captain of the Tigres during his final season in 2007-08. Between the two teams, he played 215 games scoring 17 goals and adding 91 assists for 108 points.
While Demers may be nearing the end of his career, he still has lots of gas left in the tank. He was able to prove this season that he can still play and be a mentor to the younger players around him. With the Capitals preparing to bring in their next wave of rookies, he would be a great guy to have around.
Aside from his leadership abilities, his two-way game has always stood out. He doesn’t panic with the puck in the defensive end and isn’t afraid to rush it into the offensive zone if there is no other option. He’s really good at reading the play and adapting on the fly.
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With Alexander Alexeyev looking like someone the Capitals are invested in for the long run, pairing him alongside Demers could be beneficial for his career. Learning from someone who is so well respected and experienced in the NHL would not only help his defense partners, but the rest of the young guys the Caps are looking to build around.
What Would It Cost the Capitals?
It’s fair to say Demers won’t be earning a huge raise on his next contract, so it shouldn’t cost the Caps too much. But, they won’t be the only team looking to add veterans for a playoff run, so they may have to up their offer in hopes of securing his services.
I think a fair deal sees Demers signing with the Capitals for one year at $825,000. His demand will likely drive his price up a little bit, but not too much. He’s a solid player and he’d be worth every penny if they were able to bring him in for that.
There are a ton of options for the Caps going into next season as far as new additions go, but Demers is one of my personal favourites. He seems like one of the nicest players off the ice, and on the ice, he just loves being there. If the Caps can convince him to join the team for a year to help boost team morale while bringing in shutdown defensive hockey, I’m all for it.