The pending return of Travis Boyd was going to force the Caps to make a tough roster decision and on Sunday, they made it. Nathan Walker was placed on waivers and Aaron Ness was reassigned to Hershey on Sunday freeing up the roster and cap space needed for Boyd’s return, according to Elliotte Friedman.

It is believed that Walker will be reassigned to Hershey if he clears on Monday.

Boyd looked poised to make the roster at the start of the season, but a lower-body injury forced him onto long-term injured reserve. He was assigned to Hershey for a conditioning stint and after playing Friday and Saturday, he is expected to be recalled and activated off LTIR.

Boyd recorded an assist in his two games with the Bears. His pending activation would have put the team over the salary cap ceiling which forced the Caps into making a roster move.

Walker made the team out of training camp and has been on the roster through the season. He has one assist in three games played. According to Cap Friendly, adding Boyd and removing Walker will put the team just under the salary cap. It also leaves room for Tom Wilson’s eventual return from suspension.

Wilson’s salary cap remains on the books, but he is considered a non-roster player. With only 22 players on the active roster, the Caps have the extra roster spot needed to reinstate him without having to make any corresponding moves.

Walker will have to clear waivers before he can be reassigned. Placing him on waivers gives teams the chance to claim him. The Edmonton Oilers did just that last season when the Caps tried to reassign Walker to Hershey. Eventually, the Oilers placed him back on waivers allowing the Caps to reclaim him.

Ness was originally recalled from Hershey due to an injury to Brooks Orpik that has kept him out of practice since the team returned from its road trip to Western Canada. His reassignment to Hershey would indicate Orpik is healthy enough to play. With Madison Bowey playing well, however, and no practice on Sunday, it would seem unlikely that he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

The roster moves are done, but that still leaves head coach Todd Reirden with some tough choices in terms of his lineup.

Does Travis Boyd step into the fourth line center role over Nic Dowd? Who comes out of the lineup when both Boyd and Wilson are back?

The Caps have had little roster competition through the first month of the season. With a number of players nearing their return, other players will soon have to fight for their spots in the lineup.