As the Washington Capitals hit the ice for practice for the first time since the COVID-19 pause, they saw a couple of familiar faces join the team in D.C. while also seeing several players enter COVID-19 protocol.
Daniel Sprong, Justin Schultz, Nick Jensen, Vitek Vanecek, Dennis Cholowski and Martin Fehervary are all unavailable due to COVID-19. Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie were also in protocol prior to the break. Backstrom and Kuznetsov returned to the ice on Monday, but Oshie did not. No one has been activated from the protocol at this time.
In turn, Washington recalled defenseman Michal Kempny and Pheonix Copley from the Hershey Bears, while also making a couple of moves for their taxi squad.
The Capitals assigned Hershey forward Brett Leason and defensemen Alex Alexeyev and Lucas Johansen to the taxi squad, which the NHL and NHLPA reintroduced on Monday.
Kempny was last up in D.C. for training camp and was working back from multiple left-leg injuries. However, he was ultimately sent down to Hershey to continue his rehabilitation and work toward getting back to full strength. The Czech blueliner has been wearing the “A” for the Bears and skating top-pairing minutes.
Through 24 AHL games so far, Kempny has dished seven assists, 32 PIMs and a plus/minus of minus-3.
Copley is also joining Washington and was on the ice for practice on Monday. Through 14 AHL games this season, Copley is 8-5-1 with a .897 save percentage and 2.75 GAA.
Kempny will likely help fill a major void on the blueline, where Washington is missing three of its regular top-6 players and one of their extras, including top-pairing blueliner Fehervary. Copley will help fill in for Vanecek; Zach Fucale recently entered COVID-19 protocol in Hershey.