Is the Washington Capitals Defense Set?

(Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)
(Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

With the loss of Mike Green in free agency to the Detroit Red Wings, it was known that the Capitals would likely stay quiet on the blue line and just add a depth defenseman. MacLellan and the Caps’ brass concluded that small part of their offseason Wednesday, adding a small piece to their 2015-16 blue line.

Washington signed defenseman Taylor Chorney (one year, $700,000) to become their seventh blue liner on the roster, providing insurance to the defense for the upcoming season. He brings a left-handed shot to a defensive core that already has two right-handed blue liners in Matt Niskanen and John Carlson, along with top defensive prospects Madison Bowey and Connor Carrick hoping to make the team out of training camp this fall.

“Chorney, 28, has registered seven points (one goal, six assists) and 16 penalty minutes in 68 career NHL games with Edmonton, St. Louis and Pittsburgh. The 6’1”, 189-pound defenseman appeared in seven regular-season games with the Penguins in 2014-15 and made his NHL playoff debut in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the NY Rangers. Chorney was selected by Edmonton in the second round, 36th overall, in the 2005 NHL Draft.” – Caps PR

He’s nothing special as a seventh defenseman and lacks upside like many had hoped for in free agency, but Chorney gets the job done when used appropriately  in his role. If a top six defenseman were to be out of the lineup for a decent amount of time, Washington would most likely and should call up a more capable blue liner, rather than using Chorney.

Carrick is a prime candidate for some time in the NHL in the upcoming season and will bring offense unlike Chorney. With the loss of Mike Green to the Detroit Red Wings, Washington has lost some of their elite offensive skill from their defensemen. Heading into training camp, Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov are the leading candidates for Washington’s third defensive pairing.

Capitals’ brass prefers having Carrick and Bowey earn a full allotment of minutes throughout the upcoming season, a better situation for their development if the top two defensive prospects in the organization if they play every night, whether in Washington or Hershey.

Caps Re-Sign Galiev

Hershey Bears forward Stanislav Galiev (stat19/flickr)
Hershey Bears forward Stanislav Galiev (stat19/flickr)

Washington completed the contract of one of their restricted free agents on Wednesday as well, re-signing forward prospect Stanislav Galiev to a two-year contact. Galiev’s new deal is worth $1.15 million over two seasons, and is a one way contract during the 2016-17 season. The deal will pay Galiev $575,000 at the NHL level each season. Depending on what the Capitals decide to do with Joel Ward in free agency, Galiev could enter the season on Washington’s third line if he proves he’s ready in training camp and during preseason action.

He scored his first career NHL goal this past season against the New York Rangers on April 11th, in just his second game in the best hockey league in the world. The Russian forward had his best pro campaign last season, making the biggest jump in his development under Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann, who put Galiev in a position to score 25 goals and net 20 assists. Galiev totaled 15 power play goals under Mann for Hershey, which led the AHL in tallies on the man advantage.

The 23-year-old winger is a skilled forward who has potential to become an impact player for Washington in the years ahead. He boasts a strong and accurate shot, solid playmaking skills along with decent passing and skating ability. Galiev needs to work on playing without the puck along with developing his body physically to compete at the NHL level with regularity.

Hershey Bears Receive AHL Depth, Oleksy Signs in Pittsburgh

The Washington Capitals announced four minor signings late Wednesday, which will aid the Hershey Bears as they fill out their roster for next season. The team signed forwards Carter Camper and Sean Collins, along with blue liners Aaron Ness and Mike Moore. The 30-year-old Moore played for Hershey last season, recording 14 points and serving as an alternate Captain.

Former Capitals and Bears defenseman Steve Oleksy reached a deal with Pittsburgh on Monday as well, assuring the Bears will be looking for a new Captain for next season. Moore is an option, along with forward Garrett Mitchell, who recently re-signed with Washington for two years earlier this summer.