As the trade deadline draws close, the Washington Capitals have made a few changes to their blue line to start the week. Washington acquired defenseman Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a 2018 third-round pick. The team also placed defenseman Taylor Chorney on waivers Tuesday.
Kempny has played in 81 career games, registering three goals, 15 points and 34 PIM. In just 31 games with Chicago this season, the 27-year-old has registered one goal and seven points this season and is a plus-13. He will wear number six with the Capitals.
“Now I’m here and I’m really glad that I’m here,” Kempny told reporters at the team’s optional morning skate Tuesday.
Chicago signed the Czech blueliner prior to the start of last season after a standout performance with Avangard Omsk of the KHL in 2015-16, where he recorded five goals and 21 points in 59 games. A left-hand shot, Kempny is a puck-moving defenseman who can take on a lot of ice time and has a knack for offense. While he could be more physical, he isn’t afraid to move his weight around, and will likely serve as an asset to the Capitals, who have been lacking depth on the blue line this year.
After saying goodbye to Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk and Nate Schmidt in the offseason, the Capitals chose to rely on a few of their up-and-coming prospects already in the system to fill the void on offense. And, while Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos have done well to help create some depth on the Capitals defensive pairings, it has been John Carlson on taking the most responsibility and ice time this season.
With Kempny, the Capitals will certainly see more depth, especially on the left side, where beyond Dmitry Orlov, Washington appears to need a bit more strength.
Head coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday that he expects that Kempny will slot in on the top-4 alongside John Carlson, which could then pit Djoos and veteran defender Brooks Orpik against each other as they compete for the left-hand spot on the third pairing.
Washington Waives Chorney
Having to make space for Kempny, the Capitals waived Chorney Tuesday. The 30-year-old has played in just 24 games for the Capitals this season, registering one goal and four points and is a plus-4. He played in 55 games in the Capitals’ 2015-16 campaign but has since struggled to find his spot in the lineup, playing in just 32 games over the last two seasons.
“He’s been the ultimate teammate the last couple of years and works as hard as anyone, and when he’s in, he plays extremely well,” Holtby said of Chorney earlier this season. “I think everyone will see what kind of d-man he is and what kind of player [he is] because he’s very good and very effective in what he does. Guys like to play around him because he’s such a good teammate and works hard and sets a great example.”
If Chorney clears waivers, he will be assigned to the Capitals’ AHL affiliate in Hershey, and the Capitals will clear $800,000 in cap space. For now, Washington hopes to see what impact Kempny will make. As for Chorney, he will likely get more minutes elsewhere, whether it be with another team or in the AHL.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.