Capitals

Quick Links

Injury forces Capitals' Lars Eller out of World Championship

usatsi_9707317.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Injury forces Capitals' Lars Eller out of World Championship

Lars Eller’s World Championship is over. After playing three games for Team Denmark, the Capitals center is out of the tournament due to a leg injury, according to a report by Ekstra Bladet.

Eller revealed on breakdown day that he had been dealing with an injury throughout the playoffs.

“I've been battling something,” Eller said. “Something that's been bugging me. A little bit of rest these next couple of weeks. Just have to take care of it. It doesn't require surgery, it's nothing serious, just with some rest over time, it will be fine, I believe.”

Eller also said the injury happened right before the playoffs and he took several maintenance days during the series. Though the injury required rest, Eller said he would speak to doctors before making a decision on participating in the World Championship.

Despite the injury, Eller ultimately elected to go to Worlds and was performing well. After scoring four points against Great Britain, Eller led the team with five total points and was the most productive Capital at the tournament through three games.

The report describes Eller’s injury as being a leg injury. The national team was aware of it, but determined he could still play with the injury as he had for the Caps. He was reassessed after the team’s third game and it was determined he could not continue. At that point, the Caps wanted him returned and the national team acquiesced.

There was also a conflicting report form Danish journalist Jimmy Boejgaard that indicates Eller was leaving due to an agreement he had with the team to play only three games. If this was the case, it seems reasonable to assume whatever agreement Eller had was injury related.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Capitals send Christian Djoos to Anaheim for Daniel Sprong in minor league trade

Capitals send Christian Djoos to Anaheim for Daniel Sprong in minor league trade

ARLINGTON, Va. -- While Ilya Kovalchuk was the last NHL trade for the Capitals before Monday's 3 p.m. deadline, it was not technically the team's last trade. Defenseman Christian Djoos was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Daniel Sprong in what the team referred to as a "minor league deal." Details of the deal were first reported by Frank Seravalli.

Djoos, 25, was a part of the team's Stanley Cup run in his rookie season and played 22 out of Washington's 24 playoff games that year on a third-pair role with Brooks Orpik. Last season, however, he missed several weeks after suffering compartment syndrome in his thigh and his play never seemed to recover. Djoos has always been an undersized player and that seemed to be a major issue for him last season, more so than when he was a rookie. In the 2019 postseason, he was eventually replaced in the lineup by Jonas Siegenthaler.

During a brief call-up after the Christmas break, Djoos played in only two games before suffering an upper-body injury. During those two games, he did not have a single defensive zone start either on a faceoff or on the fly, reflecting a lack of trust by the coaches in defensive situations. That was a sign that his NHL future was likely done in Washington.

Despite his struggles in Washington, Djoos has been very good in the AHL this season scoring five goals and 27 assists in 42 games for the Hershey Bears. He leads all Hershey defensemen in points with 32.

In exchange, the Caps receive forward Daniel Sprong, 22, who has played the majority of the season in the AHL with the San Diego Gulls where he had 11 goals and 16 assists in 39 games. He also played eight games for the Anaheim Ducks with one goal and one assist. He has 97 total games of NHL experience between Anaheim and the Pittsburgh Penguins with 19 goals and 11 assists.

Sprong will be assigned to Hershey, per a team official.

Sprong is on the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

The 4 most important things Caps GM Brian MacLellan said about new Capitals forward Ilya Kovalchuk

The 4 most important things Caps GM Brian MacLellan said about new Capitals forward Ilya Kovalchuk

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Brian MacLellan did not make any further additions to the Capitals' roster on Monday before the 3 p.m. trade deadline, leaving the Ilya Kovalchuk trade as the last piece for what he hopes will be another championship roster.

"I think he's a good fit for what we need," MacLellan said. "He's an established player. So many good reports and viewings of what he did in Montreal. I think he's a fit for our team. We think he can add a lot offensively, playmaking. So many good things have been said about him on and off the ice in Montreal that we basically thought it was a no-brainer to add him."

Here are the four most important things MacLellan had to say about Kovalchuk.

Kovalchuk will start on the third line

This should perhaps come as no surprise with Washington ranking third in the NHL in offense, but Kovalchuk will not step into a top-six role for the Caps. Instead, he will play on the third line.

While MacLellan was careful to say lineup decisions would be left to Todd Reirden, he was very specific with where he felt Kovalchuk fit.

"I probably start him third line, right wing," MacLellan said. "Start him there, see how it goes, and we can move him around."

Don't take the addition of Kovalchuk as an indictment of the third line

MacLellan knew he was not going to get as much offensive production from the third line without Andre Burakovsky and Brett Connolly this season and was quick to defend the performance of the Carl Hagelin, Lars Eller, Richard Panik line.

"I think the third line's been good recently," MacLellan said. "I think the intention of it, the way we put it together, was that it wasn't gonna be as offensive (as) last year but you could trust it more against top-six players from other teams. They've had reasonable offensive output and played a pretty solid two-way game for most of the year."

Yet, MacLellan pegged Kovalchuk for the third line.

When asked if this meant he was changing his philosophy for that line he said, "It could be. I mean we don't have to go with it. I think the Kovalchuk thing gives us just options to -- if we need offense, we can use him in that situation, and if we don't we can leave the line the way it is."

Look, you don't trade a third-round draft pick for nothing. There's a reason MacLellan sought out Kovalchuk and it is for his offense. What this points to most likely is that Kovalchuk will play on the third line, but that the Hagelin, Eller, Panik trio will be used in defensive situations when needed.

Kovalchuk is willing to accept a smaller role

Kovalchuk was playing nearly 19 minutes per game in Montreal. That's significantly more than he should expect in a third-line role with Washington, but, per MacLellan, Kovalchuk understands this.

"I think he views our team as having a chance to win a championship and that's his main priority," MacLellan said. "I think he likes the style of play that we have. I've talked to him a couple times about accepting a role and he's pretty clear in his mind that he'll do anything as long as he has a chance to win a championship."

MacLellan added, "Having conversations with Ilya about will he be willing to accept a certain type of role -- I know in Montreal he was playing probably a little bit more than he's going to play here -- and would he be able to accept that role and be OK with it? He's pretty clear in his mind that he'll do whatever's asked of him."

Kovalchuk will be used on the power play

Washington's power play has struggled significantly this season. At times, the team has tried to use the second unit more than in the past, but when the player Evgeny Kuznetsov is setting up for one-timers is Brendan Leipsic, well, that's not a unit you can really expect much offensive production from. Kovalchuk should provide a more dangerous option for that second power play unit.

"He's a power-play player," MacLellan said. "Probably a second-power play player for us unless something's going on and we want to change it up. We can start him in our bottom six, we can move him up for shifts depending on the coaches. I just think it gives our coaching staff a lot of flexibility to use the player."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: