With Nate Schmidt heading to Vegas in the expansion draft, the Caps have a hole in their top-four. While the Caps do have a small handful of defensive prospects who will likely see time in DC next season, it’s unlikely any of these guys are ready for a full-time role on a second pairing in the NHL. The Caps could also go the trade route, but if they were unwilling to pay Vegas their asking price to not select Schmidt, it’s unlikely the Caps will be willing to give up the assets required to bring in a top-four defender on the trade market.
That leaves targeting an unrestricted free agent as the most likely option the Caps will take to replace Schmidt. Finding the cap space to do this is going to be tricky, but as things stand now, I think the Caps could have $2-3 million to spend on the UFA market to bring in a defender.
Here’s a look at four pending UFAs who could fall into that price range and be adequate on a second defensive pairing.