The Washington Capitals have made their third round of cuts at training camp, re-assigning 11 players on Saturday.
Washington assigned forwards Kody Clark, Shane Gersich, Kale Kessy, Mason Morelli and Riley Sutter to Hershey, along with defensemen Lucas Johansen, Dylan McIlrath, Cody Franson and Eddie Wittchow. Goaltender Hunter Shepard will also report to the Bears. Blueliner Bobby Nardella will continue his rehabilitation in Hershey.
Gersich, Johansen and McIlrath require waivers and must clear before returning to the AHL. The Bears kick off their training camp on Monday.
Clark wore the “A” in Hershey last season and dished seven goals and nine points through 19 games. The Capitals took Clark, the son of longtime NHLer Wendel, 47th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. He suited up for Wednesday’s 5-4 preseason loss against New Jersey, where he recorded one shot and was a plus-1 through 10:02 minutes on the ice. He also got some time on the penalty kill.
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Gersich re-signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Capitals this summer. He also played in Da Beauty League over the offseason, impressing as one of the top scorers over the tournament. The 25-year-old was also an alternate captain with the Bears last season and registered six goals and 14 points. He also suited up for Wednesday’s preseason game, picking up two blocks, a hit and 2:27 TOI on the penalty kill while logging a total of 11:03 minutes.
Kessy had two goals and six points in 11 games for Hershey last season. Morelli racked up nine points in 11 ECHL games with the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate South Carolina Stingrays last year and netted five assists in 15 games with the Bears in last year. Sutter had nine assists in 25 games with Hershey in 2020-21.
Johansen also signed a one-year, two-way extension with Washington this offseason. The 23-year-old played just five games with the Bears last season due to a lower-body injury.
Washington brought in McIlrath on a one-year deal over the summer, hoping to add depth and physicality to the blue line. He played in the Capitals’ preseason opener against Boston, but was given a game misconduct for an illegal check to the head. He was subsequently suspended for two preseason games and two regular-season games. Franson was also an offseason addition, but didn’t look too strong at training camp and trailed behind in skate tests. The right-hand shot didn’t play in any preseason games. Wittchow, who is under contract with Hershey, had a goal and four points in 19 games last year.
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Nardella was also among Washington’s signees in the offseason, earning a two-year extension. His deal remains two-way for this season before switching to a one-way contract in 2022-23. The puck-moving blueliner participated a strong rookie camp while still recovering from a shoulder injury and was in a non-contact, powder blue jersey throughout main camp. He will continue to recover with the Bears. The 25-year-old was on loan last season with the SHL’s Djurgardens IF, where he dished seven goals and 33 points in 47 games.
The Capitals inked Shepard to a two-year, two-way deal this offseason. The undrafted college netminder and former Minnesota captain was among the top goaltenders and broke numerous records during his NCAA tenure.
Shepard played in 21 games for the Stingrays last year, going 12-6-2 while registering a 2.55 GAA and .922 save percentage. He shined in three appearances with Hershey; he was undefeated and boasted a 1.00 GAA and .969 SV%.
Here is Washington’s updated roster, which sits at 37. Notable players remaining: Connor McMichael, Hendrix Lapierre, Beck Malenstyn, Matt Irwin.