The Washington Capitals are desperately looking to improve their defense. They need to find at least one top four defenseman, preferably one capable of handling top pairing minutes, and preferably one to pair with Dmitry Orlov on the third pairing (though Nate Schmidt could be that guy). Here are some free agent defenseman that the Washington Capitals will probably explore signing this off-season.
4. Anton Volchenkov
Earlier today, the New Jersey Devils officially announced that they have placed veteran defenseman Anton Volchenkov on waivers for the purpose of buying out his current deal. Understandable, since Volchenkov had trouble staying healthy. However, that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t be a good fit for the Washington Capitals.
Volchenkov is still an above average stay-at-home defenseman who could bring value to the Washington Capitals. His offensive woes are well documented, but despite that, he’s managed to maintain above average puck possession stats thanks to his ability to prevent shots.
I’d like him as a third pairing defenseman. He could also help out killing penalties. He’s probably worth ~$2,000,000 a year. However, I honestly think I’d rather have Nate Schmidt as a third pairing D than Volchenkov.
3. Matt Niskanen
The Washington Capitals might be looking behind enemy lines for a defenseman this off-season, as Matt Niskanen, formerly of the Pittsburgh Penguins, is one of the best free agent defensemen available. There have been tons of rumors that the Capitals are interested in Niskanen. They seem to have increased since the Capitals hired Niskane’s former coach Todd Reirden as an assistant coach.
Niskanen is a good defenseman. However, he’ll probably want to be paid like a top pairing defenseman. While he was one last season, there are a ton of red flags that suggest he won’t repeat that. Hopefully the Washington Capitals will avoid paying him like a top pairing defenseman, but I can’t deny the possibility that they will sign him.
2. Mark Fayne
Like Volchenkov, Fayne is a stay-at-home defenseman. Unlike Volchenkov, Fayne is an above average puck possessor. His puck possession stats prove that. He’s not a top pairing defenseman, but he’d be a capable second pairing defenseman and I’d sure love to see him paired with Orlov.
1. Christian Erhoff
Christian Ehrhoff is the only capable top pairing defenseman available in free agency. According to sources, the Washington Capitals have already expressed interest in Erhoff after he was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon. Obviously, Erhoff would cost quite a bit of money. However, he is by far the best fit for the Washington Capitals.
Personally, I hope that they sign Erhoff and Fayne.