BALTIMORE — There is no question that the Washington Capitals would like to repeat as Stanley Cup champions next season. They have made some key moves to keep the crux of this season’s title group together.
After re-signing free-agent defenseman John Carlson, the Capitals signed two other members of the title squad.
“I love the city,” Carlson said at the press conference announcing his new deal. “I love being around here. It’s my home. It’s pretty easy for me to want to stay. I’m just glad to be here.”
They locked up defenseman Michal Kempny to a four-year deal worth approximately $10 million, according to a statement from the team, on June 29.
One day earlier, the Caps said they inked forward Devante Smith-Pelly to a one-year, $1 million contract. The final move also came on June 29 when Washington named Todd Reirden as the team’s new head coach.
Reirden replaced former coach Barry Trotz, who walked away after he and the team could not agree on a new deal after the season. Trotz then took over as the head coach of the New York Islanders.
The Capitals did not look very far for the new coach. He had been the associate coach the past two seasons and an assistant coach the two years before that.
“We feel that the time is right for Todd to lead our hockey club,” Senior Vice President and GM Brian MacLellan said. “Based on his coaching experience, communication abilities, his approach to the game and the respect he commands in our locker room, we feel that Todd has earned this opportunity.”
Reirden has never been a head coach in the NHL, but the Capitals did not seem worried about that. Other teams have been interested in him the past few seasons, and his work with the defensemen played a significant role in the Stanley Cup run.
“Todd had played an integral part in helping lead our team to the Stanley Cup championship, and we feel his appointment as head coach will enable our organization to transition seamlessly into next season and beyond,” MacLellan said.
Reirden also was an assistant on the Pittsburgh Penguins championship team of 2009.
The Capitals acquired Kempny from Chicago during the season, and he quickly became one of their top defensemen, playing a vital role in the playoffs. He posted five points in 24 games in the playoffs, including a goal and two assists versus Vegas in the finals.
Smith-Pelly’s addition will surely help the team. The mostly fourth-line player had 16 points on seven goals and nine assists in the regular season over 75 games and had a spectacular postseason.
He finished with seven goals, tied for fourth on the team and posted goals in three consecutive games against Vegas.
Washington already signed Carlson to an eight-year, $64 million deal on June 24.