Washington Capitals Player Preview: Michal Kempny Needs to Remain Healthy

Michal Kempny, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Michal Kempny, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Michal Kempny was a key contributor for the Washington Capitals during their memorable 2018 Stanley Cup win over the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Entering the final year of his four-year contract, this is a make or break season for Kempny who has battled significant injuries the past two years.

The Czech defender was brought to DC in February of 2018 in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks for a third-round selection in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. At the time, the trade was thought to add depth to the Capitals blue-line but the trade turned out to be a home run for Brian MacLellan and the Capitals’ front-office. Kempny appeared in 22 regular season games after being acquired. He finished with a plus-1 rating, scoring 2 goals and adding an assist that year for the Caps and wound up paired alongside the team’s top defender, John Carlson come the playoffs where he played an integral-role in all 24 of their playoff games.

Totaling five points and averaging 17:42 of ice-time over the course of the 2017-2018 playoffs, Michal Kempny cemented himself as an important piece of the Capitals’ defense. The following off-season, the team awarded him a four-year contract worth $10 million. The 2018-2019 regular season was Michal Kempny’s best, in 71 games he set career-highs in goals (6), assists (19) and plus-minus (plus-25). In 2019-2020, Kempny picked up right where he left off, but then the injuries came popping up like moles during a game of whack-a-mole.

Against the Tampa Bay Lightning in March of 2019, Kempny tore his hamstring and then in October the following year whilst training, he tore his Achilles tendon. Kempny’s luck, or lack thereof, would continue. A freak-accident with an ice scraper during a rehab assignment with the Hershey Bears last season cut his comeback short. But now, with a full off-season under his belt, Kempny is ready to show the Capitals he is not only healthy but can still play at a high-level after the aforementioned injuries.

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Behind Dmitry Orlov, the Capitals simply don’t have a lot of depth on the left-side of the blue-line, it’s something that any astute fan knows. However, if Michal Kempny can remain healthy and play like he did in 2018-2019, the Capitals will be one of the most complete teams in the NHL.