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Who’s Next? Top Call-Up Options For Capitals As Injuries Pile Up



Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON — Unfortunately, numerous injuries for Washington Capitals are becoming something a norm for the club early in the season. However, the situation, at this point, is far from ordinary.

The Capitals are without four top-6 forwards (Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Connor Brown, Tom Wilson), their top penalty killer (Carl Hagelin) and their No. 1 defenseman (John Carlson). And on Tuesday, one of the replacements for those injured names also went down, as Beck Malenstyn suffered an upper-body injury against the Vegas Golden Knights.

“We’re kind of getting used to it,” Marcus Johansson said with regard to dealing with numerous guys on the shelf.

With those names down, Washington has 12 forwards, with Connor McMichael and Joe Snively having made the opening night roster. However, McMichael and Snively haven’t shown they can exactly fill the skates of top-6 guys, let alone provide the same energy that Malenstyn did on the fourth line.

READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Face More Injuries, Adversity In Loss To Vegas Golden Knights

So looking ahead, the team will likely turn to call-ups. And here’s who could be next in line:

Sonny Milano

The obvious option. Sonny Milano signed a one-year, one-way deal to join the club after his offseason and tryout with the Calgary Flames didn’t go as planned. He has been in Hershey to get back into the swing of game action, and he has looked good in his stint with the Bears so far. In five games, he has two goals and an assist.

Milano has experience as a top-6 guy and has skated with top talents like Trevor Zegras. He finished last season with 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points in 66 games with the Anaheim Ducks. The 26-year-old has a lot to offer in the ways of a second or third-line winger, and he has shown that he can make plays and finish them, too.

Mike Vecchione

A versatile forward, Mike Vecchione has looked great with Hershey so far and leads the team with three goals and five assists for eight points in seven games. He’s a hard-working forward who’s under contract with the Capitals and can be a great option to come up and help out.

The 29-year-old right wing got a game with the big club last year. He can play at the wing and at center, and he battles hard for pucks and can help generate pressure in the offensive zone. He’s a hard-working forward, and someone who can take on minutes and bring experience to the roster as well.

Garrett Pilon

Like Vecchione, Garrett Pilon is an experienced presence who has been solid in Hershey this season. He has five points in seven games down with the Bears this season, and he’s a right wing, which would fill a much-needed void for D.C.

The New York native has been called up on several occasions and knows how to play at the NHL level. He is also a leader down with Hershey and is coming off a 42-point season, and he knows how to make things happen on the forecheck, while also doing a solid job in his own end.

Henrik Borgstrom

General manager Brian MacLellan said that Henrik Borgstrom would be an ongoing project for the club, and so far, he’s having a decent start in Hershey playing top-6 minutes at center. The 6-3 Finn has NHL experience and has thrived at several levels. He is still looking to recapture the play that made him a first-round pick and NCAA standout, and he has the skill and upside to do so.

Borgstrom has two goals and an assist in seven games this season, and he’s good at getting to the front of the net, fighting for pucks and making things happen in the offensive zone. He could stand to improve his play in both ends, though. Still, given his experience, he could be a solid call-up option, though the team would need him to play wing.

RELATED: Henrik Borgstrom Discusses Starting From Scratch With Washington Capitals, Says He Has To Be Better

Hendrix Lapierre

A dark horse call-up option, as Hendrix Lapierre is a center, but he has shown the potential to play wing. The 20-year-old has fit in well at the AHL level so far in a center role, and he has a goal and three assists in seven games so far.

The 2020 first-round selection added a lot of strength and muscle in the offseason, and also worked on his skating and positioning. He has also become more confident in his shot and has shown that he can make good plays on the fly and produce high-quality chances.

While others are likely ahead of him for a call-up, Lapierre, who cracked the opening night roster last season, could get another look at the NHL with several names going down.

Defensive: Bobby Nardella Or Vincent Iorio

Carlson is day-to-day, so it’s unclear if the team will need a defensive call-up with Matt Irwin slotting in. If they do, there are two names to turn to: Bobby Nardella and Vincent Iorio.

Both are right-handed defensemen and have a lot to offer the organization, and each showed they can do a lot of damage with strong training camps.

Nardella is a puck-mover who goes hard in battles, has great mobility and can make things happen in the offensive zone. He leads all Hershey blueliners in points with five in seven games, and in the preseason, he showed that he can join the rush and make an impact.

As for Iorio, the 6-3, 200-pound defenseman is a big body that’s physical and goes through his opponents, and he also has a booming point shot and good mobility. He has one assist through seven games so far this season and is showing a lot of growth and comfort in Chocolatetown.

RELATED: Vincent Iorio Talks Big Personality, Growth With Washington Capitals

Both defensemen are promising pieces of the team’s future, and both could make their NHL debuts this season.

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