Another player has been awarded an arbitration decision, as Christian Djoos was given a one-year, $1.25MM contract today. Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post reports that the team had filed for $800K and Djoos filed for $1.9MM. An award of this amount will put the Washington Capitals in a tricky cap situation as they prepare for next season. The defenseman will be a restricted free agent again next summer.
With another arbitration hearing scheduled for August 1st with Chandler Stephenson, the Capitals have some work to do before the start of the season to become cap compliant. They currently sit just over the $81.5MM cap ceiling with a projected roster of 22, though that includes Jonas Siegenthaler who can be sent down to open the year. The team has dealt with this kind of situation in each of the last several years, using paper transactions on off days to try and bank cap space throughout the season. Unfortunately, in order to do that the team will have to risk waivers with some of their depth players unless another move is made before October.
The $1.25MM represents quite a substantial raise for Djoos, who made just $650K last season on his first one-way deal. The 24-year old defenseman ended up playing in 48 total games for the Capitals and now has 133 under his belt at the NHL level. For a seventh-round pick that may already seem like a success, but the young Djoos could have an even bigger impact moving forward given the success he has experienced at the minor league level.
In 2016-17 Djoos broke out offensively, recording 58 points in 66 games for the Hershey Bears. In his limited NHL experience he has actually been quite productive, recording 24 points in 108 regular season contests despite averaging fewer than 14 minutes a night and seeing no powerplay time. The question now becomes whether he is worth keeping around at $1.25MM given Siegenthaler’s emergence last season. The younger defenseman basically leapfrogged Djoos on the depth chart and gives the team more flexibility because of his waiver-exempt status. They obviously would like to carry seven (or eight) defensemen if possible, but at least early in the season could use some extra cap room.
With this decision already two players have been awarded contracts through arbitration, and Evan Rodrigues has already had his hearing. Just four cases made it to arbitration hearings last year, and zero the year before that.