There has been a lot of talking, analyzing and projecting the Capitals defense, but one player who is assumed to be returning next season still remains unsigned. Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler is a restricted free agent and, though the team still retains his rights as an RFA, they still need to get a deal done to get him back into the fold.
Siegenthaler, 23, is coming off his first full NHL season. He showed his potential the year before, stepping into a first-pair role with John Carlson in the playoffs after the injury to Michal Kempny. In 2019-20, Siegenthaler played a third-pair role, but established himself as one of the team's top penalty killers. He led the team in shorthanded ice time per game with 3:11.
Siegenthaler is a left defenseman on what is becoming an increasingly crowded blue line. With Brenden Dillon and Dmitry Orlov still in tow, Siegenthaler will most likely remain in a third-pair role, but first, the team has to sign him.
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General manager Brian MacLellan does not sound all that concerned.
"We're talking to his agent," MacLellan said. "We have some time so we'll work it out in the end."
Siegenthaler is an RFA and does not have arbitration rights so this is expected to be a fairly easy signing for the team. There is no reason to think there could be any snags to the signing at all and the new deal will most likely come in somewhere in the $1 to $1.2 million range.
The only question is whether Siegenthaler could become a cap casualty.
After the team signed Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk, it appears they may not have enough caps space to re-sign Siegenthaler and a 13th forward so someone on the blue line could be traded in the coming days. With prospect left defenseman Martin Fehervary looking to break into the NHL, perhaps it is Siegenthaler who could end up being shipped out.
But, as a young, up-and-coming defenseman coming off a successful rookie season who the team could sign for relatively cheap, there are other options the Caps should consider first.
MacLellan expressed his satisfaction with Siegenthaler's play saying, "We're happy with the way he's progressed and we want to continue to develop him in our organization."