Zach Sanford is on the precipice of making the Washington Capitals opening night roster next month. Here’s why it will happen.
The Capitals’ strong interest in the Auburn, New Hampshire native has been no secret. Sanford, 21, originally caught the eye of General Manager Brian MacLellan at last years (2015) Development Camp. In an interview with the Washington Post, MacLellan stated “I guess the one guy, Sanford, I was impressed by Sanford during the drills.” “I liked what he’s done.” Capitals’ head coach Barry Trotz also added, “A guy like Zach Sanford, I’m impressed with him, his development from last year to this year.” So why is Sanford now the guy?
The Capitals have stated since July that they are still in the market for an additional 4th line forward. The Capitals are currently $3,454,874 under the salary cap, but still need to sign Dmitry Orlov (or another defenseman), so options are limited. The Capitals are also looking to improve team speed. Enter the 6′-4″, fast skating, relatively inexpensive, Zach Sanford.
This summer’s fast-paced signing of Sanford started immediately following development camp. The series of events that followed the Capitals development camp had a feel that this was more than just another typical summer signing. There seemed to be an expeditious bent to what was unfolding.
Sanford, interviewed by CSN back on July 10th, still maintained he was looking forward to returning to Boston College this fall. When CSN asked about possibly making the Capitals roster this fall, Sanford replied “I really haven’t thought about that much. I’m looking forward to going back (to BC) next year and being an upper classman and leading there and take it day by day and see what happens. Just keep getting better.”
It’s clear something changed, and changed quickly, in just a few hours following the CSN interview. It’s likely the Capitals approached Sanford and told him he was ready to join the team. On July 10th, Sanford, who originally stated he would finish out his college career, notified Boston College that he would not be returning this fall. The following day, the Capitals’ announced the signing of Sanford to a three-year, entry-level contract.
It was clear from early on this summer that the Capitals were extremely high on Sanford. Several reports had him a top candidate for making the team this fall. Steve Richmond, the Capitals’ director of player development, told CSN back in July that “He looks like he could be ready. We’ll see.”
Following the Capitals rookie tournament practice on Friday, the Bears head coach Troy Mann told the Washington Post he felt that Sanford was poised to make the Capitals roster next month.
Reading tea leaves is always a dangerous proposition, but in this case, all signs point to Sanford likely making the Capitals opening night roster.
By Jon Sorensen