By Katie Adler
While signing a contract is generally a moment of joy, Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen is finding it difficult to celebrate.
Jensen inked a three-year, $12.15 million contract Tuesday, but the deal came among a rash of trades that sent five players out of Washington. The Capitals have dealt all of Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway, Marcus Johansson, Erik Gustafsson, and Lars Eller in the span of a single week, radically changing their roster both on the ice and in the locker room.
Jensen noted the clashing emotions of the moment in his first media session after signing his new deal.
“It’s exciting [to sign the contract], Jensen started. “It’s been a tough time here the past week with our team, losing guys that are brothers in your locker room. It’s been tough, so it’s hard to be happy with that stuff going on, but at the same time I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to stick around. I’m excited what the future has in store for us here on this team.”
Though Jensen expressed his delight to stay on the roster, he appeared somewhat torn throughout his interview. Even when professing happiness, he spoke with a tone that frankly resembled that of a funeral, not that of a lucrative contract signing. After over four years with the team, it’s easy to understand why losing so many teammates would be difficult to stomach.
Amidst so much change, Jensen remains grateful for the opportunity to stay with the Caps.
“I knew in my mind I wanted to stay,” Jensen said. “It’s not always up to me, though. There’s management that’s looking out for the future of this team and they’re the people that make these decisions. At one point I wasn’t sure. They have to make those tough decisions and they’ve been making them for the past couple of weeks. I’m happy with the decision that they’ve kept me around.”
The Capitals currently sit sixth in the Metropolitan Division and will face a long road if they want to make the playoffs this season. It’s not the season that Jensen, or any of the Capitals, had hoped for. Still, Jensen has faith in his team.
“When I got here, I immediately saw the culture that this organization has built with the guys in the room right now and the guys before here,” Jensen said. “It’s a winning culture. As long as we continue to keep that culture here, I’m excited to be here.
“Obviously we’re not in the spot we want to be in exactly, this season, but I think overall the culture has remained,” he added. “Guys continue to work for each other. I think it’s going to be a good thing for our team.”
Jensen is one of three Capitals defensemen with a contract for next season, joining John Carlson and Ramus Sandin. His new deal keeps him with the Caps through the 2025-26 campaign.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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