Trevor van Riemsdyk has found a home with the Washington Capitals


NEW YORK — Trevor van Riemsdyk received a call from his agent late last week and turned on speakerphone. His father, Frans, was in the room, and Trevor wanted him to hear the news: The Washington Capitals would sign him for three more seasons. He hung up and hugged Frans. Afterward, they had a beer and reflected on how far he’d come since he was a kid playing in Middletown, NJ

He didn’t want to rest on his laurels either; In the hours after the deal was announced, van Riemsdyk put together the best defensive pairing and had two assists in the 5-1 win at the New York Islanders.

“It was nice to have a good game afterwards to celebrate as well,” said van Riemsdyk, who struggled as the seventh defender for the Capitals two years ago and endured stretches as a healthy scratch.

His new deal, which will net him a whopping $3 million a year in salary, not only brings newfound stability to his life — his wife is 38 weeks pregnant and van Riemsdyk feared a potential move if he were to Trade would have been treated appointment. It also makes the 31-year-old an integral part of the team’s future on the blue line. He joins John Carlson, Nick Jensen and Rasmus Sandin as the four defenders signed next season; The capitals also have limited free agents who should be back in Martin Fehervary and Alexander Alexeyev, which would further solidify a defensive corps that looked bleak just a few weeks ago.

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Carlson, who is still recovering from a head injury sustained in December, was the only defenseman for the Capitals to earn a long-term contract this season. The front office therefore had to make an effort to secure the future of the blue line before the deadline. Washington traded Dmitry Orlov and Erik Gustafsson and acquired 23-year-old Sandin from the Toronto Maple Leafs; it also re-signed Jensen to a three-year deal days before the deadline. But van Riemsdyk was forced to sweat the deadline as a possible trade piece with general manager Brian MacLellan taking last-minute calls. He decided against a move from van Riemsdyk, which opened the door for further negotiations on a long-term deal.

“The deadline comes and goes and you never know how that’s going to play out with the state of affairs and the state of affairs. … It takes a bit of time,” said van Riemsdyk. “I am in an extremely fortunate situation. I joined the Caps and they’ve treated me really well since I’ve been here. I’m very grateful.”

His three-year deal is the longest he’s signed in his nine-year career and a reward for his resilience over the past three seasons. Van Riemsdyk, a right-handed defenseman who won the Stanley Cup in his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015, arrived in Washington in 2020 on a one-year contract with Taxi Squadron and watching many games from the press box as a healthy scratch. But he’s done enough to land another two-year deal and he’s responded by offering versatility to the lineup and posting a career-high 17 points last season.

With the Capitals’ back end decimated by injuries this season, he’s proven a reliable top pair defender and a mainstay in shootouts – he has a team-high 148 blocked shots – while enjoying the most prolific offensive performance of his career. He has 21 points, including five in his last seven games.

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“I’ve just watched him over the three years, the first year we had seven NHL defensemen here and he found himself in and out of the lineup. He was just an incredible professional with the way he approached his business,” said Washington coach Peter Laviolette. “He was a real strength for us in the backend. . . . A good two-way defender. He can break out pucks. He has a good first pass. He jumps on the offensive. He’s pushed it a bit over the past two years. . . . He wants to create something.”

Laviolette called van Riemsdyk “a low-maintenance hockey player” who has established himself as a respected teammate in the dressing room, and the defender has confirmed that in recent weeks despite his contract situation being up in the air. With Jensen and Fehervary missing three games through injury recently, van Riemsdyk not only took on a heavier burden (he’s averaged 25 minutes and 22 seconds of ice time in his last three games), but also focused on helping their young substitutes through it To learn the system and adapt to the ice. That includes Sandin, who has walked on top pair alongside van Riemsdyk and has eight points in his first four games with Washington.

“We’ve started to know each other really well both on and off the ice,” Sandin said. “He has helped me a lot since the first game and the first training session.”

Taking to the ice Monday morning ahead of the team’s Monday morning game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, van Riemsdyk took his spot in the top four defensemen. He’s optimistic about what the group has left in the tank for the last 15 games and how the Capitals will grow together going forward, he said, but he’s only gotten to this point by leaning on loved ones. He and his brother James van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers were rumored to be on the trade bloc before the deadline, and they spoke to each other as much as possible for support. And of course, Trevor’s contract extension couldn’t have come at a better time as his father travels with the team as part of the annual mentorship trip.

“Signing a deal like that is a great reminder, especially when your dad is there, of all the hard work that he put in,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here without him.” Trevor van Riemsdyk has found a home with the Washington Capitals

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