The Capitals made their final cuts on Monday morning, releasing defenseman Aaron Ness and center Zach Sill.
Ness and Sill must clear waivers before being assigned to Hershey.
The cuts set the Capitals’ opening night roster at 22 players—13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies. The moves also mean that rookie Zach Sanford has made the team.
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For much of the offseason, it was believed that the Capitals would carry 23 players, including a 14th forward spot to be used to accommodate a deserving young player. That plan, however, changed as camp unfolded.
“We’re planning to probably go with 22, not 23 as I’ve said,” Coach Barry Trotz said after Sunday’s 4-0 win over the Islanders. “That’s good for everybody down there [in Hershey]. It will keep the competition and heat on them.”
Sanford, meantime, entered camp as a favorite to snag one of the final forward spots. Then the Boston College product backed up the potential coaches saw in him with some production, scoring a pair of goals in five games. And that clinched it.
On Sunday—the Capitals’ final exhibition before opening in the regular season Thursday in Pittsburgh—Sanford played left wing on a line with center Lars Eller and right wing Marcus Johansson. That’s likely going to be the third forward combination when the season begins.
“Based on his play, I don’t know if he will be semi-regular,” Trotz said, asked he expects Sanford to dress regularly. “I think he’s [a] regular, the way he’s played. That’s good on him, being a young guy who’s playing well.”
Here’s the Capitals' current roster:
— Backstrom, Beagle, Burakovsky, Connolly, Eller, Johansson, Kuznetsov
Oshie, Ovechkin, Sanford, Williams, Wilson and Winnik.
— Alzner, Carlson, Chorney, Niskanen, Orlov, Orpik and Schmidt.
— Grubauer and Holtby.