The Washington Capitals traded Jonas Siegenthaler to the New Jersey Devils in April for a third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. The deal was surprising. Siegenthaler, 24, was signed to an affordable contract ($800k) and remained under team control for several more seasons. In a cap-strapped world, those are two valuable things. Siegs was also coming off a 2019-20 season where he played in almost every game (65 of 69) and was a penalty-kill specialist. He seemed to be a part of the team’s future.
A week after the Devils’ season ended, Siegenthaler got honest about the trade during an Instagram Live interview with Olivier Borer. It appears he asked for a trade.
“I wanted out of Washington because I didn’t play,” Siegenthaler said in German via a Google Translation. “Of course, that’s a bit of a shame, because I had it very well with my teammates and thought Washington as a city was cool.”
Siegenthaler, a 6-3, 211-pound defenseman, was a victim of a numbers game. The Swiss defenseman shoots left and was caught on the Capitals’ depth chart behind Dmitry Orlov, Brenden Dillon, and Zdeno Chara. He only played in seven games for the Capitals last season including one game where he suffered the indignity of playing 28 seconds as the team’s seventh defenseman during a March 11 game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Zdeno Chara was a “living legend” and “took my place away from me,” Siegenthaler said. “It was difficult for [head coach Peter Laviolette] to tell Chara that he wouldn’t play.”
Siegenthaler’s future remained murky beyond this season with Michal Kempny returning from tearing his Achilles tendon and Martin Fehervary poised to graduate to the NHL next season.
Siegenthaler elaborated on his struggles in Washington during his Breakdown Day interview with the Devils, which he conducted in English.
“Mentally, it wasn’t easy,” he said. “In Washington, I was watching the games mostly in the stands. As a young guy, you just want to play games. You just want to play hockey. It wasn’t easy mentally, but I just tried to stay in the game mentally and physically.
“So I got traded and got my chance here and finally played some hockey again. Then I got COVID. It was probably the worst timing ever, but I think after this year, I kinda grew mentally like a lot. It took a lot of patience. You start thinking and thinking. In the end, it was a good learning process in my mental game.”
Siegenthaler moved in with Devils captain and 2017 first-overall pick, Nico Hischier, after the deal. The two knew each other from the junior national team and had vacationed together in the past.
“It hurts a little not to be with a title contender anymore,” Siegenthaler said. “But the Devils are a young team and maybe a little immature. In two or three years, we will be a top team that can fight for the Cup.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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