Dealing with a number of injuries and the possible suspension of Garnet Hathaway, the Capitals made a flurry of roster moves on Wednesday. Carl Hagelin was placed on LTIR and Nic Dowd was played on IR. Both players are dealing with an upper-body injury and acre considered day-to-day. Hagelin will be eligible to return to the roster on Dec. 2 and Dowd on Nov. 21. Goalie Vitek Vanecek was reassigned to Hershey. The resulting cap space allowed the team to recall forward Beck Malenstyn, Mike Sgarbossa, defenseman Tyler Lewington and goalie Ilya Samsonov, which the team announced earlier on Wednesday.
In addition, it was announced that Nicklas Backstrom will not play Wednesday against the New York Rangers. due to an upper-body injury. He is considered day-to-day and remains on the active roster.
The team continues to insist both Hagelin and Dowd are day-to-day, but they had no choice but to place one of them on LTIR in order to get enough cap room to call in some reinforcements. The team does not get relief from Dowd going to IR other than an extra roster spot, nor will Hathaway's salary come off the books if he is indeed suspended.
It was clear from the start that calling up Vanecek was a temporary move and that the team wanted to get back Samsonov as quickly as possible. These moves allowed them the cap space to do so. It also allowed them the cap space to recall a seventh defenseman in case of injury, hence the Tyler Lewington move. The salary cap gymnastics the team had to go through last week show why keeping the bare minimum number of players on the roster can quickly turn into a problem. With all the injuries upfront, however, and the possible Hathaway suspension, the bare minimum may be exactly what the Caps will be left with in terms of forwards.
With no Backstrom, Hagelin or Dowd, we are going to see some line shuffling at the morning skate in preparation for Wednesday's game against the New York Rangers (8 p.m., NBCSN). Lars Eller will move up to the second line with Backstrom out and both Sgarbossa and Malenstyn will be inserted into the bottom six. If this is in fact what happens, then Wednesday will be Malenstyn's first career NHL game. He clearly caught the eye of head coach Todd Reirden in the preseason with his strong play.
No announcement has yet been made regarding Hathaway's suspension.
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