- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2018

Defenseman Michal Kempny has only been with the Washington Capitals since February. Now, expect him to stick around for the long haul.

Kempny, whom the Capitals acquired just before the trade deadline last season, signed a four-year contract with an average annual value of $2.5 million, the team announced Friday. Kempny was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

For most of his 2018 stint with the team, Kempny, a left-shot, paired with the right-shooting John Carlson on the blue line. The Capitals locked up Carlson last Monday with an eight-year, $64 million deal, and now have brought back his partner for $10 million.

Carlson was hopeful the team would retain Kempny.

“(Kempny) made a huge impact on our team,” Carlson said Monday. “When he got here, I thought we kind of started to play our best hockey maybe 10, 15 games after he got here, and then I thought he played awesome in the playoffs. He’s a great player, a great defender and he can skate, so that’s pretty much textbook what you want to have on your team, and certainly I think we play well together.”

Kempny only recorded three points in 22 regular-season games with the Capitals, but then posted five in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including three (a goal and two assists) during the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington can now be certain of two of their defensive pairings next year: Kempny-Carlson and Dmitry Orlov-Matt Niskanen. It’s not clear yet whether the Capitals will bring back Brooks Orpik; he was traded to Colorado in a cap-clearing move, but the Avalanche bought out his contract the next day, making him a UFA.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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