Washington Capitals Have Options For Seventh Defenseman

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The Washington Capitals have a roster spot open to a seventh defenseman. Several players have stepped up to the plate and shown that they want the job.

Last year, the Washington Capitals went most of the season without having a seventh defenseman. This season, the Washington Capitals will likely have one. The role of the seventh defenseman is a tough one. The seventh defenseman has to prepare for every game despite spending a majority of the games watching from the press box. 

They are often overlooked and rarely get attention because they are often listed on the score sheet under “healthy scratch”. Despite that, they must be ready to play at a moment’s notice. It’s a job that isn’t for everyone. The Washington Capitals have several options for the role of the seventh defenseman. Let’s take a look at each of them and what they would bring to the Washington Capitals.

Taylor Chorney is a 28-year-old defenseman who has played for the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, and most recently the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has only 68 games of NHL experience. 42 of those games coming during the 2009-2010 season. He played in five playoff games for the Penguins last season. The Caps signed him to a one-year deal back on July 1st.

MORE FROM STARS AND STICKS: Chorney hopes to earn roster spot in training camp

Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Chorney isn’t a good possession player. He is also left-handed. The Washington Capitals will already have four left-handed defensemen starting for them (Brooks Orpik, Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt, and Dmitry Orlov), so having a fifth lefty probably isn’t ideal. He would have to go through waivers to go to Hershey which could work in his favor. His chances of making the team are roughly 30%.

Aaron Ness, who served as the captain of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL last season, was signed to a one-year two-way deal back in July. He spent 29 games in the NHL with the New York Islanders. Ness is a bit intriguing because he can move the puck well. Though that’s something that Orlov and Schmidt can do as well, Ness could provide even more depth.

Like Chorney, Ness is cursed by being left-handed. He also figures to play a leadership role with the Hershey Bears. I don’t think Ness will make the opening night roster, but I wouldn’t rule it out. There’s a good chance we’ll see him in a Washington Capitals sweater at some point this season, especially if Orlov or Schmidt get injured. His chances of making the team are roughly 15%.

Connor Carrick is a familiar name to Washington Capitals fans. He spent 34 games with the team during the 2013-2014 and often times looked overmatched as a 19-year-old defenseman. Fast-forward one year later. After a full season with the Hershey Bears, Carrick has improved quite a bit. He had 42 points in 73 games with Hershey and was a key component of their power play.

Mandatory Credit: Tori Hartman

Carrick likely won’t be the seventh defenseman, but it’s not his fault. The Caps probably realize that staying another year in Hershey with top four minutes would be far more beneficial for Carrick and the Caps. He could be an option to be called up should the Washington Capitals need an extra warm body. He has roughly a 20% chance of making the team because he’s right-handed. That could be attractive to Barry Trotz and the coaching staff.

Ryan Stanton has largely been an afterthought after signing a one-year two-way deal with the Capitals after spending the previous two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. Stanton has played in 118 NHL games over the past two seasons. He has the most NHL experience of all the candidates.

He is left-handed, which could work against him, but his experience will likely matter more than which hand of his is the dominant one. He isn’t a good possession player, but he is more proven than Chorney, Ness, and Carrick. Unlike them, Stanton has proven that he can be a steady third pairing defenseman. That could be the determining factor. His chances of making the team are roughly 35%.

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