The Washington Capitals now need a new third-pairing defenseman, as UFA Justin Schultz is reportedly leaving for the Pacific Northwest.
Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Schultz will sign a two-year deal with the Seattle Kraken that pays a $3 million AAV.
Schultz first came to D.C. in 2020 after signing a two-year, $8 million deal. In 2020-21, he ranked second on the team in primary assists among defensemen. This past season, he worked primarily on the third pairing with Trevor van Riemsdyk and ended the year with four goals and 19 assists in 74 games, along with a +/- of minus-15.
The Capitals will now have to address another vacancy, while also solving their goaltending situation and filling Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson’s voids. Darcy Kuemper will reportedly sign with Washington.
There are multiple options for the team to consider. Not only can the team find another choice on the market, but the team could also promote from within. Lucas Johansen is one name that could make the NHL jump. Vincent Iorio is also on the rise. Alex Alexeyev was going to potentially compete for a spot, but will miss training camp as he recovers from shoulder surgery.