On their off day, the Washington Capitals announces quite a few cuts to their training camp roster, reducing it by six players.
The team re-assigned defensemen Alex Alexeyev and Tobias Geisser, as well as forwards Brian Pinho, Aliaksei Protas, Mike Sgarbossa and Mike Vecchione, to the Hershey Bears. Pinho, Sgarbossa and Vecchione must clear waivers first.
Alexeyev had a decent camp but didn’t stand out as much. Still, he’s coming off a strong 2020-21 campaign where he got valuable KHL and AHL experience. He spent 55 KHL games on loan with Salavat Yulaev fa, where he dished eight goals and 16 points while improving his puck-moving ability and getting more involved offensively. He also shined back in Hershey, registering nine points in 12 games.
Geisser, while solid in rookie and main camp, also didn’t show as much speed and strength as much as other defensemen. The race is also intense on the blue line, and there’s not a lot of spots to go around. The 22-year-old has shown significant growth though, and the two-way defenseman impressed last year with 17 assists and 22 points in 15 games on loan with the Swiss League’s EV Zug.
Pinho and Sgarbossa got some time up with the big club last season and had solid camps. Sgarbossa and Pinho looked strong alongside Beck Malenstyn in Monday’s 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Pinho had 12 points in 10 games with Hershey last season and spent a lot of time on the Capitals’ taxi squad. Sgarbossa also got a spot on the taxi squad last season and had two points in five games with the Capitals, while recording five goals and 10 points in 14 games with the Bears.
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Protas, who attended the team’s rookie camp, looked good in preseason action. He’s starting to gain more confidence in his offensive ability and use his 6-6 size to his advantage. The 20-year-old gained a lot of experience in 2020-21 as well. Like Alexeyev, he played in the KHL last year and dished 10 goals and 18 points in 58 games before returning to North America. In 16 games with Hershey, he had two goals and seven points. He also got to skate with Belarus in the Olympic Qualifiers and had two points in six games.
Vecchione also looked solid in training camp and got some time with Connor McMichael. The 28-year-old also picked up a power-play goal against New Jersey and got to the high-danger areas. He played in 18 games with the Avalanche’s affiliate Colorado Eagles, putting up 10 points in 18 games. The longtime pro signed with Washington in August and is bound to have a solid showing this year in Hershey.
There are still several young players and prospects that made the shortlist with the Capitals’ season opener vs. New York just eight days away. Forwards Hendrix Lapierre and Connor McMichael are the current favorites, and Beck Malenstyn and Garrett Pilon are vying for their chance too. Martin Fehervary and Matt Irwin remain in the mix on defense. Fehervary suffered an upper-body injury against the Devils Monday, but the magnitude of the injury is unclear.
Zach Fucale is also still on the roster with Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov, who is also dealing with an injury (lower-body). However, Peter Laviolette is not overly concerned with the Russian netminder’s ailment. Washington made a statement and cut Pheonix Copley on Monday.
Here is the Capitals’ updated roster.