The Washington Capitals signed two right-handed defensemen during free agency who will likely play a major role in Washington next season. Former Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz is slated for the team’s top four while Trevor van Riemsdyk will try to lock down an opportunity on the bottom pairing during training camp.
After making $2.3 million per season with the Carolina Hurricanes, van Riemsdyk signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with Metropolitan Division rival Washington on the second day of free agency.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 14, 2020
“I think there’s a lot of that goes into it,” van Riemsdyk said of signing with the Capitals. “The style that team plays and if you see yourself fitting in with that group. It’s something we’re very familiar with, with the Caps playing Carolina. Had some great battles with them even from my time in Chicago. When you’re playing in Washington, it’s always a tough game and a game where there’s a lot of skill on display. It’s a fun thing to be a part of.”
van Riemsdyk has spent parts of six seasons in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2014-15 season. Last season, he was a frequent scratch for the Hurricanes and only suited up in 49 games, after missing seven games the previous two years combined.
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Before inking his new deal, van Riemsdyk revealed he heard a lot of great things from two former Capitals that influenced his decision.
“I obviously played with Justin Williams for a few years and he’s had nothing but great things to say about Washington,” van Riemsdyk said. “I know one of our PR guys, Pace (Sagester), worked in Washington a little bit too and he had awesome things to say. It was a no brainer.”
Williams retired on October 8. Mr. Game 7 finished his career in Carolina after playing two seasons in Washington (2015-17).
One relief that van Riemsdyk shares with new signees Henrik Lundqvist and Justin Schultz is that he will no longer have to face Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin has torched Hank for 24 goals — most among goalies — while Schultz still has nightmares of blocking Ovi’s shots from his time with Pittsburgh.
“That’s obviously really cool to be able to share the ice with a guy like that, who you kind of get to watch a little bit in practice and see what he does there,” But obviously yeah, day in day out on the ice, he’s too much to handle sometimes and really hard to play against. Excited to not have to step in front of one of his one-timers this year.”
During his time in Chicago and Carolina, van Riemsdyk served as those teams’ Hockey Is For Everyone ambassador, leaders in the locker room and in the community on diversity, equality, and inclusion. van Riemsdyk is eager to fill in the vaacum left by Braden Holtby’s absence.
“It’s something that I take a lot of pride to be a part of and I think the NHL’s done a great job with the initiative, not only the month that they really dedicates to it but throughout the year to make sure that it’s a message they’re behind and they really preach,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of my best friends and greatest memories in hockey rinks all over the US and Canada and I want to make sure if someone wants to, they have that experience too and have that chance too. It’s something that’s very important to me and I’m proud the way the NHL’s gone about doing it and obviously we can get better and better every year.”
Here’s more questions and answers from TVR’s opening interview with the Caps.
Have you talked to Peter Laviolette or Brian MacLellan about your fit in the lineup next season?
Trevor van Riemsdyk: Yeah, I talked to both of them. Obviously, very excited to start a new journey. Without getting into specific details, I think it’s more generalizations at the moment. I’m excited to get to Washington whenever that may be and get started.
What was your experience like as a free agent considering how things were different this year due to the pandemic?
Trevor van Riemsdyk: It was my first time going through unrestricted free agency. Talking to my brother a little beforehand on what to expect. I think just going into it, it was a wait-and-see type of a deal. It’s pretty unique, not only for the players but for the owners and GM’s. I think we tried to manage our expectations and just as offers come in you try to assess them as they come and not try to make any predictions.
Your career path has been interesting. You weren’t drafted. You played a few years at the University New Hampshire. There are other players who are drafted and play hundreds of games at the American League Level. Your path has been different from that. You only had a handful of games at Rockford before going to the NHL. What about your training has allowed you to do that?
Trevor van Riemsdyk: I think I was extremely fortunate to have a brother who had been through it. If you know my brother at all, he’s always looking for the little details and edges and who’s working for who and what works for other players. So luckily he did all the deep diving and I got to follow along on what he found out. I think that was a huge part of it. I was kind of a late bloomer. I wasn’t even close to getting drafted. Didn’t go to college until I was 20. Obviously, college went well and I was signed from there. It’s making the most of your opportunities. It’s worked out so far. I’ve been extremely lucky to be with some great organizations and looking forward to my next chapter here in Washington.
Was there something you were looking for this offseason when you were looking at different teams as a free agent?
Trevor van Riemsdyk: I think it was when you see what teams are interested, you kind of go from there. We didn’t do too much beforehand picking certain spots. It was more of when they came to you, access, and then go from that way. I obviously played with Justin Williams for a few years and he’s had nothing but great things to say about Washington. I know one of our PR guys, Pace, worked in Washington a little bit too and he had awesome things to say. It was a no brainer.
Headline photo courtesy of @tvanriemsdyk6
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