When he was recalled from the Hershey Bears after a productive stretch, Capitals rookie Zach Sanford was expected to see regular playing time. But since his recall, Sanford has played just one game, and for such a promising young player, that is not good for his development.
According to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan, the Capitals officially sent down Sanford to the Bears before the holiday roster freeze, but he has remained with the team. Today, he was recalled by the Caps, per AHL.com, and is back with the team.
Through 20 games played, Sanford has recorded just one assist and according to Khurshudyan, is expected to sit again tonight when the Caps play the New York Islanders and Head Coach Barry Trotz said he expects the team to carry only 22 players after the roster freeze ends at midnight.
The Capitals have also played fellow rookie Jakub Vrana since he was recalled and while he has done only slightly better with three points (one goal, two assists) in 11 games, he is also a possibility to be sent down. According to Khurshudyan, the Caps were considering reassigning Vrana but because he was recalled before December 11, could not be sent down.
The Caps had high hopes for Sanford when they signed him to an entry-level contract this past summer, but by keeping him confined to the press box, they are risking slowing or hurting his development. It’s a tricky situation that Sanford finds himself in and the Caps need to figure out what is best for Sanford, or risk hurting his development. The best thing for Sanford would be to send him to Hershey so that he can get sufficient playing time to allow his skills and mentality on the ice grow, as well as to garner much-needed experience. The Caps have always been known for developing under-the-radar players, and Sanford could very well be the next.
By Michael Fleetwood