Getting playing time was difficult for most prospects in the coronavirus plagued 2020-21 hockey season. Capitals prospect Bobby Nardella was one of the lucky ones who was able to get plenty of playing time while on loan to Djurgardens in Sweden. He was very impressive during his time there and wracked up seven goals and 33 points in 47 games, establishing himself as one of the team's top defensemen.
There was one downside to his season, however, and that was a shoulder injury that ultimately led Nardella to undergo surgery in the offseason.
“Lingering thing that I think happened a few years ago, it kind of flared up in Sweden," Nardella told reporters Saturday during Caps rookie camp. "I was dealing with it there and we got it looked at again. We decided surgery was necessary after the season. I was going to go to Hershey, but decided to get the surgery so that the timing worked out that I’m ready to go by this year.”
Nardella, 25, is a left-shot defenseman, an area in which the Caps look particularly thin heading into the 2021-22 season. Though Martin Fehervary looks likely to take a full-time role this season, he will have to earn it which will mean an open competition in camp for prospects to impress.
Even if Fehervary ultimately wins the job, Nardella could potentially see some time this season as a call-up after impressive seasons in Sweden and in Hershey before that. It all depends on how he looks during camp and beyond.
But if Nardella wants to play, he will have to be healthy.
Nardella was on the ice Saturday for the start of rookie camp and, as he noted about the timing of the surgery, he expects to be ready for training camp.
"I’m in a good spot with it right now," Nardella said, "Just trying to take it slow and get my conditioning up and my strength up."