Capitals trade Baumgartner for Royer

By Jeff Charlesworth
It was bound to happen eventually. Former first round pick Nolan Baumgartner just wasn’t a part of the Capitals future anymore. After Nolan’s contract expired at the end of the season, there didn’t seem to be much reason to re-sign him.

Capitals’ GM George McPhee traded Baumgartner to the Blackhawks for defenseman Remi Royer in an exchange of headaches. Chicago fans had made Royer a target after watching him make several mistakes in his brief NHL stint in 1998. Both these players seem to hold a wealth of potential, but neither has put it together enough to secure a job in the big leagues.

The Capitals have made it their mission to acquire more toughness this off-season. They started by trading for defenseman Stephen Peat, and drafted Ryan VanBuskirk a month later. Two weeks ago, they brought back a familiar face by signing Free Agent Craig Berube. Now, with this deal for Royer, the Caps are certainly a tougher team – but it remains to be seen if they are better.

The Capitals main problem now seems to be an abundance of defenseman. They currently have 15 blueliners under contract, and two more ready to turn pro, in Bjorn Nord and Ryan VanBuskirk. Added to that are their three Restricted Free Agents: Sergei Gonchar, Ken Klee and Brendan Witt. With NHL teams carrying seven defensemen and AHL teams employing eight, the Caps have to find a place for the five extra defensemen to play.
Royer is ready for the NHL now, after playing two full seasons as a pro. He will be in a tough battle during training camp to gain a spot in DC. He has to realize that whatever happened in Chicago is behind him now, and this is a chance to start with a clean slate. Hopefully, he can become the player that he was touted to be when he was drafted.