If the Washington Capitals are going to go repeat as Stanley Cup champions they are going to have to do it without the services of defenseman Michal Kempny.
The team announced on Tuesday that Kempny will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn hamstring. He is looking at a four-to-six month recovery time. Kempny was injured in a March 20 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Capitals acquired Kempny just before the 2017-18 NHL trade deadline for a third-round draft pick in a move that, at the time, probably slid under the radar. But he would quickly become a key part of their defense and appeared in all 24 playoff games, scoring two goals and adding three assists on the team’s run to a championship.
Prior to his injury this season he had taken on an even bigger role with the Capitals and had seen his ice-time increase to nearly 20 minutes per night while playing alongside John Carlson on the team’s top defense pair. The Capitals outscored teams by a 58-39 margin and controlled more than 52 percent of the shot attempts in more than 800 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time with that duo on the ice (data via Natural Stat Trick).
Kempny finishes his 2018-19 season with six goals and 19 assists in 71 games.
The Capitals addressed their blue line again at the trade deadline this year with a similar move, acquiring Nick Jensen from the Detroit Red Wings.
With Kempny now done for the season that acquisition takes on even more importance.
With two games remaining on their regular season schedule entering play on Tuesday, the Capitals are looking to secure what would be their fourth consecutive Metropolitan Division title.