Coming out of the Christmas break, the Capitals recalled defenseman Michal Kempny and goalie Pheonix Copley on Monday. The team also reassigned defensemen Lucas Johansen and Alex Alexeyev as well as forward Brett Leason to the taxi squad. The NHL announced the return of taxi squads on Sunday and the Caps wasted little time taking advantage with multiple call-ups.
"Feels great," Kempny said of returning to the NHL. "Yeah it's been a while, but I'm really excited to be here and you know, obviously the situation is how it is but you know I'm gonna enjoy every day here and we'll see what's gonna happen."
The roster moves come as several more Washington players entered COVID-19 protocol. The team announced Monday that Daniel Sprong (tested 12/21), Justin Schultz (12/21), Nick Jensen (12/23), Vitek Vanecek (12/24), Dennis Cholowski (12/24) and Martin Fehervary (12/24) are all in the protocol and unavailable.
The news was not all bad, however, with Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov returning to the ice for Monday's practice, but that is still a significant amount of players the Caps must now account for in their lineup.
With so many players out, that means players some of Monday's additions are not just depth players but are likely to play at least Wednesday against the Nashville Predators.
Samsonov is likely to carry the crease with Copley as the backup, but, at least for now, Kempny, Alexeyev and Leason look slated to play. Leason has played in 22 games this season, but this would be the NHL debut of Alexeyev, the 10th rookie to make his debut for the Caps this season. This could also potentially be the season debut of Kempny.
"[Kempny] looked great," head coach Peter Laviolette said. "It's just a practice. He was playing well down there, and it's just a first practice coming off a break."
Laviolette added, "He's got a lot of experience, and he was playing well: a great opportunity for him."
Here is a look at the lines from Monday's practice:
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Conor Sheary - Nicklas Backstrom - Garnet Hathaway
Connor McMichael - Lars Eller - Aliaksei Protas
Carl Hagelin - Nic Dowd - Brett Leason
Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson
Michael Kempny - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Alex Alexeyev - Matt Irwin