The Washington Capitals have finally come to terms with their last unsigned restricted free agent, and a bargain rate no less. The team has announced that defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler has signed a one-year contract extension. The deal carries a mere $800K salary. Siegenthaler will be an RFA again at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.
Siegenthaler, 22, just wrapped up his first full season in the NHL, skating in 64 games for the Capitals. Siegenthaler was impressive for a rookie defenseman, recording nine points and a +11 rating, leading all regular defenseman in defensive zone start percentage, and finishing just shy of the team lead in blocked shots with 105. For a player of his age, Siegenthaler looked like a very effective defensive player and a future top-four shutdown option. The Swiss product has never been one to score many points, but he makes up for his lack of offense with his reliability on the back end.
While defensive defenseman are some of the more difficult players to valuate, few would have guessed that Siegenthaler’s new AAV would come in under $1MM, nevertheless $800K. The young defenseman was simply too good defensively in his rookie season. However, the Capitals are in a difficult spot with the salary cap, currently above the upper limit, even accounting for Siegenthaler’s minimal deal, and still need at least one more forward added to that calculation. Washington was going to need to make a move regardless, but Siegenthaler settling for a low salary number this year will make for an easier salary dump. However, the trade-off for help in the present is cost in the future. If Siegenthaler even duplicates his rookie season, he will have that much more leverage next off-season when it comes to finally negotiating a long-term deal, not to mention salary arbitration eligibility. Siegenthaler took a team-friendly deal this year and will likely cash in next summer.