The Capitals have recalled forward Liam O’Brien from Hershey, the team announced Friday morning.
The 22-year-old, who played 13 games with the Capitals as a first-year pro in 2014, will join Washington for its two-game road trip to Ottawa and Montreal.
The cap-strapped Caps had been carrying only 12 forwards, the minimum needed for four full lines. Now they’ll have an extra player up front for the four-day trip, just in case there’s an injury or illness.
O’Brien enjoyed a career year in Hershey, recording five goals and 13 assists in 28 games. He’s also third on the Bears in penalty minutes with 48.
The rugged winger has provided net-front presence on the first-team power play and has been used a bit on the penalty kill as well.
“O’Brien has been a pleasant surprise from an offensive perspective,” Hershey Coach Troy Mann told CSNMidatlantic.com recently.
“He made the [Capitals] two years ago as an in-your-face energy guy—and he still provides that. But he’s really developed his [offensive] skill. Now he’s able to make some plays. He’s certainly been a guy that’s improved his game to become more of an all-around player rather than just that fourth-line energy guy that can fight.”
It’s unclear how the Capitals plan to use O’Brien. It’s possible he’ll be the 13th forward and the call-up is a reward for working hard and producing in the AHL. But it’s also possible Capitals Coach Barry Trotz will want to see how much progress he’s made since his last taste of the NHL.
O’Brien, of course, hopes it’s the latter.
“I play with an edge,” O’Brien told CSN when asked to describe his game now. “I play a hard game, stick up for my teammates, do the little things. I’ve been down here for three years now; I think I’ve developed. I think the coaching staff has don a really good job with me. They’ve helped me a lot in every single area of my game.”
“I feel more ready now than I did when I actually played [in the NHL],” the 6-1, 215-pound native of Nova Scotia added. “That’s a good feeling, to feel ready. If I do get the call, I’ll go up there and definitely feel ready and comfortable.”
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