The Capitals took a step in addressing one of their needs this offseason by acquiring St. Louis Blues tough guy D.J. King. The acquisition of an enforcer was probably third on the depth chart of team needs this offseason behind upgrading the blueline and center positions. But if you watched any number of Capitals’ regular season games a season ago, you would have clearly seen what was a glaring absence. As the season went on and on, it was apparent that team’s were beginning to take liberties with the likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Green. Whether it was Jason Chimera or David Koci, DC’s skilled players had targets on their backs. Some hits were clean, others were cheap. But the bottom line is the Caps didn’t have an answer for the way teams began playing against them. Opposing players felt retribution would be handed down if they took shots at the Caps’ superstars.
Since the departure of Donald Brashear, following the 2009 season, the Caps have lacked anybody whatsoever who would invoke fear in the opposition. This is not to disparage the brave souls who stepped in when needed (I’m looking at you Matt Bradley). Matt Bradley and John Erskine became the enforcers by committee. But Erksine often found himself either battling injury or sporting a suit come game time as a healthy scratch. He was largely ineffective throughout the year and was not able to make his mark as the team’s main enforcer. Matt Bradley stepped in and will always be commended for his defense of the team’s superstars and more skilled players. Bradley wasn’t shy to fight others’ fights as we saw against Steve Downie. But Bradley often took the worse in his scuffles.
So is D.J. King the new sheriff in town?
It’s hard to say, as King missed much of last season battling injuries. King played just 12 games for the Blues last season and still managed to collect 33 PIMs. But King brings a presence to the ice. At 6’3″, 230lbs the Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan native will be a huge body adding size to an already huge team.
In exchage for D.J. King, the Capitals have parted ways with Stefan Della Rovere. Della Rovere was drafted by the Caps in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. Della Rovere had been a member of the Canadian World Junior team and had respresented them well. With Barrie of the OHL a season ago, Della Rovere contributed 18 goals and 23 assists. But honestly, I couldn’t see Della Rovere ever cracking the Caps lineup. There is a log jam of wingers currently on the Caps roster, and team is just to deep and the prospect pool is even deeper. Della Rovere has all the talent and skill to be a great NHL player, which is why I feel this a great pickup by St. Louis. It will also be a fresh start for Della Rovere.
Just prior to the trade, King signed a two-year contract with annual salaries of $625,000 and $650,000. It should also be noted that this a one-way deal so King will be wearing a Caps sweater next season.
About the Author: Jeremy is a life time hockey fan currently living in Washington DC. Jeremy also runs a Capitals blog called The Nation's Capitals where he frequently posts blogs about the state of the Caps. His other interests include music and politics. Jeremy has a degree in Political Science. Being from DC, politics kind of comes with the territory.