The Washington Capitals six active defensemen are probably already decided, but questions loom on whom head coach Todd Reirden should choose as a “depth guy” for the blue line. So far this preseason, a few have plead their case on why they should be the one if they don’t sign someone off the free agent market.
Before the Caps acquired Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks, Madison Bowey played last season with the Caps on the third pair with veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik. Although he did not find the back of the net, he did accumulate 12 assists in the 51 games he played. He plays a two-way style, but has shown his inability to contain opposing forwards and lack of systematic decision-making as an NHL defenseman. While I believe he is capable of stepping his game up to par, I have seen others aiming for his same spot that have shown a brighter side.
The defenseman who has personally caught my eye is Connor Hobbs. He had a nice goal in the game against Montreal and couple of fights so far this preseason. He has a pretty defensive style of play (which is definitely a good thing lol), much like Kempny and Orpik. Not afraid to play the body and get into those gritty areas, Hobbs could prove to be a tough customer at the NHL level if given the opportunity. With Tom Wilson looking to evolve his game and avoid the penalty box, Hobbs could easily fill that role as the Caps enforcer/tough guy. Last year was the 21 year-old’s first professional season in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, where he tallied 16 points (3 goals and 13 assists) in 44 games. He is also a right-handed shot, which puts him in the same running with Bowey as a young defenseman designed for the right side.
A guy who has been around for a while with the Caps organization and who I could see being selected or called up is Tyler Lewington. He has played 3 season so far in the AHL with the Bears, accumulating 31 points (9 goals and 25 assists) in 175 games. Flying under the radar, Lewington is a decently big rig at 6’2″ that can throw the body around. Watching him in the preseason, he gives off a John Erskine vibe on the ice. I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Reirden took him into consideration as a call-up this season if there is a struggle on the defensive side of the play.
To me, these three are to be on Caps watch to earn a spot with the big boys this season. All solid in their own way, they all could contribute to the Caps’ run at back-to-back Stanley Cups. What do you think? Feel free to tweet us @InColdPlacesDC or my personal Twitter @Jurky88, lets talk Caps.