Ted Leonsis has been a part of the Washington Capitals’ ownership group since 1999, and if you ask him, this is the deepest defense he’s ever seen since taking over the franchise.
He pumped up that group and also the sense of unity in the newly revamped front office in a press conference on Saturday, as the Washington Post reports.
“Right now, I think this is the deepest defensive corps that we’ve had since I’ve owned the team,” Leonsis said. “We have a lot of depth and we needed that just to settle things down in the back. We certainly needed help on our penalty kill. And I think the better, more experienced the defense is, the better the goaltending is. I think they go hand in hand. Free agency, the upside on free agency is that you get to add players to the team without giving up an asset.”
From a payroll standpoint, it’s easy to see where Leonsis is coming from. As of this writing, the Capitals employ four defensemen who carry higher combined cap hits than Braden Holtby and Justin Peters along with one (Karl Alzner) who equals their combined $2.8 million cap hit.
It’s plausible that one or more blueliner might be moved at some point, but Cap Geek estimates that a whopping $28.73 million of cap space is allocated to the Capitals’ blue line in 2014-15.
(Despite taking up a greater number of roster spots, their forward group makes less than $7 million more … and that’s with Alex Ovechkin’s hefty $9.54 million mark.)
For all the talk about new head coach Barry Trotz’s open-mindedness toward offense, this team seems to be shaping up in his defense-first image. Actually, that segues nicely to the other element Leonsis seems to crow about: a unified vision.
” … You need to be totally in sync. With the players that we signed, the players that we draft, you have to be in total sync,” Leonsis said. “So far, so good on that. I think that’s a good move in a positive direction to have the organization all signing from the same songbook.”
For a team that seems to change its tune with dizzying frequency (Trotz is Washington’s fourth head coaching hire since 2011-12), some stability could go a long way.