By Bill Sands
The Washington Capitals continued their impressive off-season Friday morning, as beat reporter Isabelle Kurshudyan announced the team signed defenseman Michal Kempny to a four-year deal with an annual average cap hit of $2.5 million.
In our review of the Caps’ draft weekend, we pointed out that the theme of this summer seems to be focused on keeping the 2018-19 Capitals roster as similar to the 2017-18 team as possible. So far, so good. With this signing, the Capitals will now be bringing back their starting goaltender, top four defensemen, and top nine forwards (once Tom Wilson signs his extension).
Kempny – Trade Deadline Addition
Kempny came to the Caps as a trade deadline acquisition after an underwhelming tenure with the Chicago Blackhawks. With Washington, he developed into a capable blueliner and served as the perfect partner for John Carlson. The Capitals’ defense corps went from struggling to dominating as Kempny settled things down and provided a stabilizing presence during the playoff run.
Kempny had a number of suitors across the league, but like Devante Smith-Pelly, he chose to return to a team he knows and feels comfortable with. Four years is a long deal for someone who has yet to prove he has long-term viability, but the cap hit is very team-friendly and leaves plenty of room for the team to pick up a few more depth pieces and maybe (hopefully) keep Jay Beagle as well.
Time may prove different, but for right now, this is an excellent signing and sets up the Capitals for long-term stability on the defensive side of things. On a related note, Kempny repeatedly praised coach Todd Reirden for his advice and guidance, which supports the rumor that Reirden is ready to take the reins as head coach.