Capitals add defensemen Jakob Chychrun, Matt Roy as NHL free agency begins

Capitals add defensemen Jakob Chychrun, Matt Roy as NHL free agency begins

Brian MacLellan is rarely secretive about the moves he plans to make. Most general managers try to keep their cards close to their chest, but Washington is often the exception to the rule.

Last Wednesday, two days before the NHL draft and five days before free agency began, MacLellan said the Capitals were looking to add an extra forward and change their defensive mix. Hours later, MacLellan traded for winger Andrew Mangiapane from the Calgary Flames, and on Monday the focus shifted to defense.

Just before the free agency market opened Monday afternoon, Washington traded defenseman Nick Jensen and a 2026 third-round draft pick to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

“Jakob is a 26-year-old offensive defenseman with nearly 500 NHL games of experience,” MacLellan said in a statement. “His unique skill set and experience will undoubtedly enhance our blueline and significantly enhance our offensive capabilities.”

Chychrun is entering the final year of a contract worth an average annual value of $4.6 million. After acquiring the left-hander, the Capitals then signed free agent defenseman Matt Roy to a six-year contract worth $5.75 million per year.

Chychrun, a left-handed shooter, brings an offensive flair to Washington’s blue line, while Roy will add defensive stability on the right side of the lineup. Chychrun matched his career high of 41 points last season in Ottawa.

“Matt is a solid right-handed defenseman who plays significant minutes against the opposition’s best players and is extremely responsible in his own end,” MacLellan said. “We think his addition will strengthen our blue line for years to come.”

Washington’s roster has changed dramatically over the past two weeks. The offseason moves began with the trading of goalie Darcy Kuemper to the Los Angeles Kings for center Pierre-Luc Dubois. After adding Mangiapane last Wednesday, MacLellan added goalie Logan Thompson from the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday and traded forward Beck Malenstyn to the Buffalo Sabres.

“We’re restructuring, adding prospects, competing,” MacLellan said of Washington’s plans after Saturday’s draft. That kind of triple mandate is nearly impossible to pull off successfully, but so far this offseason the Capitals have reshaped their roster for the present without losing sight of the future.

Also on Monday, Washington re-signed restricted free agent center Connor McMichael to a two-year, $2.1 million-per-year contract, a bridge deal for the 23-year-old who established himself as a key part of the Capitals’ lineup last season. McMichael scored 18 goals in 80 games, fourth on the team, and totaled 33 points while playing primarily as a middle-six center.

To bolster the fourth line, the Capitals added Brandon Duhaime and Taylor Raddysh to a pair of cheap deals. Duhaime signed a two-year deal at $1.85 million per year, while Raddysh earns $1 million on a one-year contract.

Duhaime, whose father Trevor was selected by Washington in the ninth round of the 1991 draft, scored 13 points in 80 regular-season games last season with the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche. He was traded to the Avalanche in March for a 2026 third-round draft pick. Raddysh scored 14 points in 73 games for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Both players bring speed to Washington’s fourth line, which needed more depth after Malenstyn was traded and Nicolas Aube-Kubel left as a free agent.

The Capitals also re-signed a trio of minor league players Monday morning: defenseman Chase Priskie, forward Ethen Frank and goalie Mitchell Gibson. Both Gibson and Priskie signed one-year, two-way contracts, while Frank signed a two-year deal that is a one-way contract in the second year.