After having been in quarantine, Washington Capitals center Lars Eller is back in the District.
According to The Athletic‘s Tarik El-Bashir, No. 20 was back on the ice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex on Thursday, skating with Nicklas Backstrom and Conor Sheary before practice. All three were in blue no-contact jerseys.
The Danish center entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on the Capitals’ West Coast swing and missed the last five games. Eller was starting to heat up before going on the list, with points in three straight games and finally finding twine for the first time in 2021-22. He has eight points in 15 games so far this season.
It is a welcome sight for the Capitals, who will get back one of their top centers as well as one of their missing forwards. In addition to Eller, four Capitals forwards are on the shelf. T.J. Oshie headed back to the injured reserve on Wednesday after suffering another injury in his return from the IR on the West Coast swing.
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Meanwhile, Conor Sheary is day-to-day with an upper-body injury he suffered in warm-ups against the Seattle Kraken on Sunday. Nicklas Backstrom remains on the LTIR, and Anthony Mantha is out indefinitely after undergoing shoulder surgery in early November.
To make matters worse, the injury bug has also bitten the blue line. Justin Schultz is day-to-day after suffering an upper-body injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
Eller is the first and only Washington player to be impacted by COVID-19 this season. As of right now, he is not listed on the Capitals’ active roster.
Right now, Connor McMichael is stepping up in a major void to help fill the void down the middle and has flourished in his role as a top-6 forward. Meanwhile, Aliaksei Protas also had strong showings at center and Mike Sgarbossa also filled in at 4C and scored his first as a Capital while driving a strong line with fellow Hershey call-ups Beck Malenstyn and Brett Leason on Monday.
In the end, getting Eller back will be a major boost, especially if he picks up where he left off. Plus, it gives the Capitals another power-play option and penalty killer.