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Washington Capitals

Edmundson Brings Leadership, Experience To Capitals’ Blue Line



Montreal Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson (44) skates the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Washington Capitals entered the 2023 offseason with a handful of needs.

But by acquiring Joel Edmundson, 30, on Saturday, they can check off adding a veteran left-handed defensemen to help guide 23-year-olds Martin Fehervary, Rasmus Sandin and Alexander Alexeyev.

“I want to be a guy that they can lean on,” Edmundson said Wednesday. “Been in the league for, I guess going into my ninth year now, so I’ve seen a lot, I’ve had a lot of teammates. I’ve had a lot of good mentors in my career, so I just want to be that guy for those guys.”

Edmundson comes to Washington after three seasons in Montreal, the last two of which being marred by back injury. Despite missing the first 10 games of the season, as well as the entire month of February, Edmunson still finished second on the team in blocked shots (149) and fourth in hits (112) in 61 games.

The Capitals, eyeing methodical roster moves with limited cap space, opted to take a chance on Edmundson, shipping third-round and seventh-round picks in 2024 to the Canadiens who, in turn, retained half of Edmundson’s $3.5 million cap hit.

“I think when we were going through the free agent market [and] the trade market, there’s an element that we wanted to add to our lineup, so we got a sense of what free agency for that type of player — a physical, netfront presence, good leader, has some good size,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. 

“[We] looked at the free agent market, what the cost was, decided to go that way, spend a pick on it. Plus the salary retention was appealing to us too because we could afford that.”

Having been an alternate captain in Montreal, Edmundson is expected to leave his fingerprints on the Capitals’ locker room from a leadership standpoint. But with two months before the preseason, his role on the ice is far from clear.

Edmundson, now the oldest of the team’s left-handed defensemen, has experience playing on all three defensive pairs and could very well fit anywhere after conversations between new head coach Spencer Carbery and assistant coach Mitch Love, who oversees the team’s defense. Jostling for the top line is Fehervary, who the team just inked to a three-year contract extension, and Sandin, who had more points last season than Jakob Chychrun, Damon Severson and others.

Wherever he slots in on the ice, Edmundson stands to improve the Capitals’ prevention efforts and improve the team’s goal differential, which was the third-worst in the Metropolitan Division last season.

“I think that’s the strong point to my game,” Edmundson said, “just being solid in front of the goalie and making sure that he can see the puck. I love to use my stick to my defense with some cross checks and just make the opposition’s night miserable. I think that’s what got me to this point in my career. 

“I just want to be a good guy in that locker room, I hear they have a fun group in there, so I just want to go in there and be a leader in my own type of way.”

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.