The Washington Capitals solidified their defensive core this off-season with the return of veteran blue liner Brooks Orpik and the new contract extension of Madison Bowey, but where does Christian Djoos fit in?
Djoos played last year on the third pair with Orpik in the Stanley Cup playoffs and worked well using his speed and heads-up play from the blue line and d-zone. Ex-Caps head coach Barry Trotz integrated him with top defenseman John Carlson as well, up until they acquired Michal Kempny via trade who found a comfortable spot next to Carlson. Djoos has a bright future ahead of him with the Caps. He played 63 games last year in his debut season and accrued 14 points (3 goals and 11 assists). Previously, he played 129 games with the Hershey Bears in three seasons and accumulated a total of 42 points (21 goals and 59 assists). At 23 years of age, 8 years of professional experience (SEL, SHL, AHL, NHL), and now a Stanley Cup ring with the Washington Capitals; he is certainly a defenseman to keep up at the National Hockey League level.
Some believe with the re-signing of Orpik and extension of Bowey make these two your next third pair for the upcoming season, but I beg to differ. Newly appointed Caps head coach Todd Reirden will definitely aim for another Stanley Cup run and go with what worked in the past, which was Orpik-Djoos. I do see Bowey, however, staying with the Caps as a healthy scratch and eventually working his way into the lineup on the third pair. Here is how I see the pairs looking like come game one of the 2018-2019 regular season as of now:
Kempny – Carlson
Orlov – Niskanen
Djoos – Orpik / Bowey*
Bowey still needs experience and improvement in order to set foot as a permanent roster spot holder, especially for when Orpik comes up for retirement or if he decides to part with the organization for other reasons. For this, we could see him integrated more into the lineup alongside Djoos and not the other way around. Djoos will be a solidified third pair defenseman unless performance determines otherwise.
Those are my thoughts, thanks for the read and let me know what you think!