If the Washington Capitals hope to get younger next season, they have to defensively as well. The defense struggled throughout the season except for a few names that did well. The question is, how young are the Caps hoping to get on defense? Their answer might be in the form of Bobby Nardella.
The Caps made three moves yesterday. Their first was re-signing Garrett Pilon. Their second was extending Nardella to a two year, $1.5 million contract. The same type of deal that Pilon got. The first year of the deal will be a two way where he will make $750,000 in the NHL and $110,000 in the AHL. The second year will be a one way deal worth $750,000.
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The 25 year old recorded 33 points with seven goals and 26 assists in 47 games with Djurgardens IF in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) during the 2020-21 season. He was ranked fifth among defensemen in points in the SHL while leading the team in assists. Listed as five foot nine and 180 pounds, the defensemen added an assist in three playoff games.
What’s real interesting about this re-signing is that Nardella has a left handed shot. The Caps are pretty crowded when it comes to left handed defensemen. The primary guys last season were Dmitry Orlov, Brenden Dillon and Zdeno Chara. There’s also Michal Kempny who missed all of last season with an injury as well as other fellow prospects Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev.
It is doubtful the Caps will re-sign Chara. It is pretty likely the 44 year old defensemen will hang up his skates. The Caps will also have to protect three defensemen. I didn’t release my updated protected list yet but I’m 100% protecting Orlov.
Nardella spent his first season in the AHL in 2019-20 before the season was shutdown due to COVID-19. The Rosemont, Illinois native led all Hershey Bears defensemen with 31 points with four goals and 27 assists in 41 games while he was tied for first on the team in assists and power play assists with 13.
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Nardella averaged 0.76 points per game which was tied for fifth among AHL defensemen with at least 30 games played and his 13 power play assists tied for second among all rookie AHL defensemen.
Nardella is a graduate of the University of Nortre Dame. In his senior year, Nardella had 34 points with eight goals and 26 assists which set a college career high in points. He was named a Hobey Bakeer Award nominee and named to the NCAA B1G) First All Star Team.
The biggest story this upcoming training camp is the positional battles on defense. Keep your eye on this kid as a dark horse to potentially make the opening night roster if he impresses the coaches enough.