A thin Capitals defense could be getting a boost soon with Michal Kempny’s potential return. Kempny has been out of the lineup since he took a hit to the head from Robert Bortuzzo on Sept. 25. On Saturday, Kempny returned to practice for the first time. He was wearing a light blue, non-contact jersey.
“He is progressing,” head coach Todd Reirden said after practice. “To have him back out there, he was in a non-contact jersey, but I thought was skating really well. He was just part of getting closer to playing. We'll continue to evaluate it every day and see how he is later today and tomorrow and then see where tomorrow's practice goes from there.”
Tom Wilson’s suspension leaves the Caps in a bind. As his spot on the roster and his cap hit remain on the team’s salary, replacing him becomes difficult. To do so, the Caps placed Kempny on injured reserve and reassigned Jonas Siegenthaler to Hershey.
That leaves Washington with only six healthy defensemen on the roster.
Only six defensemen were on the ice Wednesday as Brooks Orpik had a maintenance day and did not participate.
The good news for Kempny is that a lengthy break between games allows him more time to recover.
The Caps last played on Thursday and do not play again until Wednesday when they host the Vegas Golden Knights.
Kempny will be eligible to return off IR, but it is too soon to tell if he will be ready.
“I hope so,” Reirden said. “That'd be the plan and I'm hoping we get to that spot.”
Until then, the Caps will be operating with only six defensemen and are one injury away from an emergency call-up.
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