As known every time the NHL trade deadline looms, teams have a few options in order to give them the best odds, whether it be for the present, future, or both. Some teams are sellers, and look to trade away valuable players in hopes of large returns, which usually involves an array of draft picks or prospects. The buyers will be looking to add a player that supplies their team with an additional boost, whether it be scoring touch or defensive stability. With many players on teams’ radars, the trade deadline is one of the most exciting times in the entire NHL season.
For Washington, this meant adding a few defensemen to make the team a bit stronger in their defensive zone. Their first trade was with the Chicago Blackhawks, in which they sent a 2018 third round pick in return for defenseman Michal Kempny. Prior to the trade, Kempny had played 81 NHL games, all with Chicago, totaling three goals and twelve assists. In his early twenties, Kempny was viewed as a defenseman with the potential to be both good in the offensive and defensive zone, but the offensive half of his game hasn’t transferred to the NHL as well as some would hope. Despite this, Kempny is still more than capable of holding his own in the big leagues, and adds another strong defender to take some of the stress off the shoulders of some of the Caps’ younger defensemen.
Two days after adding Kempny, the Capitals made a second trade, this time with the Montreal Canadiens, acquiring Jakub Jerabek in exchange for a 2019 fifth round pick. The 26-year-old Czech defenseman has played only 25 NHL games, despite his age potentially leading you to believe otherwise. In his three seasons prior to joining Montreal, Jerabek played two years in the Czech league – totaling 55 points in 100 games – before joining Podolsk Vityaz of the KHL, where he had 34 points in 59 games. In the 25 games with Montreal, he had only four points. However, it is important to keep in mind the fact that he was playing limited minutes on a struggling team. In Jerabek, the Capitals gain another defenseman who, similar to Kempny, has the potential to be a strong two-way defender.
Down the stretch, these two defenseman should allow Washington to reduce the minutes of young defensemen Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey, if they feel the need to do so. They also provide a certain stability in their own zone that the Capitals can always use, allowing both Dmitri Orlov and John Carlson to feel a little more free to jump into rushes and create offense. The deals certainly won’t be the most exciting ones of the trade deadline, but Washington will be more than excited to have added two solid depth defensemen to their roster as they look towards the playoffs in April.