Washington Capitals: Christian Djoos’ Setback in 2019

Christian Djoos will be back in Washington next season. He’ll just have some company on the  Washington Capitals blueline.

Christian Djoos, the small, puck-moving Washington Capitals defenseman spent a chunk of his season injured, dealing with a bad leg injury that kept him off the ice for a large stretch of time.

He only played in 45 games, scored one goal and had nine assists. He didn’t have a great chance to get off the ground, as he was injured in early December and returned in early February.

His time on the ice was limited there, too, as he played mostly third-pairing minutes with Brooks Orpik during the regular season. And during the playoffs, he was scratched for left-handed defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler, who played admirably in his time with John Carlson.

Djoos will cost little, as his qualifying offer will only be 105% of his $650,000 a year salary, so a little over $682,000. The Capitals could opt to re-sign him to a longer term deal and a little more money, which might be a smart play for a team that will be up against the salary cap next year.

Typically a plus-possession player, Djoos struggled a little bit at five-on-five play paired with Brooks Orpik. He posted a 48.92% Corsi For percentage, 13th best on the team. He outscored opponents on the ice, but his Expected Goals was just 45.64%. Worse, his High-Danger Chances allowed was fourth-worst on the team, down at 41.30%. All numbers are courtesy of Natural StatTrick.

Djoos had a promising rookie season and 2018 playoff run, but was benched in the 2019 playoffs. So what’s to make of Djoos?He still has speed to his game and can move the puck with ease, something the Capitals blueline could always use. The problem is that he, or another defenseman, will likely have to learn to play the right side.

There will be a competition in camp, assuming all defenseman are back, which isn’t a given, and there’s multiple solid options on the left side. Michal Kempny will be back from injury and Dmitry Orlov will take his normal place in the top four. That leaves Siegenthaler, who replaced Djoos in the playoffs, to battle it out for the third pairing spot.

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Add in the potential arrival of first-round pick Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs and a few others, and the blue line is more crowded than it may appear in Washington.

Kempny, Orlov, John Carlson and Nick Jensen are locked into the future for the foreseeable future, meaning that the bottom pair is open for competition. And it’ll be a crowded one.

So for now, there’s no reason not to think Djoos will be back. He’s affordable, has flashed well for the team in the past and still is getting better.

But for how long he’ll stay a crucial member of the blue line is up for debate. He’ll have the upper-hand headed into camp, but Djoos may be running out of time, whether he or anyone else knows it.