The Washington Capitals have found their defenseman, acquiring Nick Jensen and a 2019 fifth-round pick (BUF) from the Detroit Red Wings. In exchange, the Red Wings will receive Madison Bowey and a 2020 second-round draft pick (WSH). A few hours later the Capitals announced a four-year extension for Jensen worth $10MM. The deal will keep him from reaching free agency at the end of the year, and in Washington through the 2022-23 season. The full salary breakdown is as follows:
- 2019-20: $2.5MM salary + $500K signing bonus
- 2020-21: $2.0MM salary
- 2021-22: $2.5MM salary + $500K signing bonus
- 2022-23: $2.0MM salary
Jensen, 28, is in the midst of an excellent season after being given more responsibility in Detroit, but will now move to a much deeper defense corps in Washington. The team already had two right-handed horses in John Carlson and Matt Niskanen that log huge minutes every night, but there’s not reason to think that Jensen won’t enter the lineup immediately and be an upgrade for the team. Christian Djoos played just over eight minutes against the Toronto Maple Leafs last night and is the likely candidate to come out, though the Capitals now have plenty of options to mix and match through the end of the season.
That flexibility didn’t come at a low cost though, as the Capitals are giving up a relatively high draft pick and a 23-year old defenseman in Bowey who looked like he would be an NHL regular as recently as last season. Through 84 games in his short career Bowey has recorded 18 points despite averaging fewer than 14 minutes a night, and is an effective puck-moving option that could see an increased role in Detroit. The young defenseman’s contract runs through 2019-20 with just a $1MM average annual value.
While it’s not a market-shattering return, it is another solid package secured by Detroit GM Ken Holland as part of his rebuild. Jensen was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and was obviously looking for a substantial raise on his current $813K cap hit. The Red Wings did explore a contract extension, but this return will allow them to replace Jensen while adding a nice draft pick to their prospect cupboard.
This may be the last move that the Capitals do given that they already acquired Carl Hagelin yesterday, but it surely won’t be the last time the Red Wings are involved in a trade this season. The team still has several expiring assets that could bring back something of value, most notably Gustav Nyquist. With Matt Duchene coming off the board today the forward market is finally starting to move along, and the Red Wings will likely be watching closely.
Washington meanwhile would need to move out more money to do anything else, given how close they are to the salary cap ceiling. It was clear that GM Brian MacLellan wanted another defenseman, something he has done every year—Michal Kempny, Kevin Shattenkirk, Tim Gleason and Mike Weber all come to mind—but has managed to keep hold of his first-round pick once again.
Darren Dreger of TSN was first to break the deal on Twitter.