Photo: Valdosta Daily Times
When the NHL Department of Player Safety announced that Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson was offered an in-person hearing for his hit on St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist during the team’s last preseason game, general manager Brian MacLellan knew that the Capitals could be without their top-line forward for a long time.
In preparations for being without Wilson, 24, in addition to center Travis Boyd, who was placed on long-term injured reserve and was labeled as week-to-week due to a lower-body injury, MacLellan put in a waiver claim – the only waiver claim – for forward Dmitrij Jaskin, who scored six goals, 17 points, and had a +6 rating in 76 games with the Blues last season. At his press conference before the season, MacLellan said that he claimed Jaskin, 25, off of waivers because he felt the Capitals were “a little vulnerable with our forward depth.”
“We were feeling a little vulnerable with our forward depth, depending on what happens with [Wilson] here, and we like the player, we think the player has some upside and with the possible suspension of [Wilson], we’re adding a big body that can make some plays.,” MacLellan said of why he put in the waiver claim for Jaskin.
The Capitals saw Jaskin as a reclamation project with some upside. After the team had success with these projects in the past, such as forwards Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly and the possibility of adding more forward depth, the Capitals decided to take a chance on Jaskin.
After serving as a healthy scratch for the Capitals’ first two games of the season, Jaskin has played seven of eight games since, recording an assist, a -2 rating, 15 hits, two blocked shots, four takeaways, and one giveaway while averaging just 9:07 worth of ice time per game in that span.
He has been mostly playing on the fourth-line with Smith-Pelly and center Nic Dowd but got some time on the first line with forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov when head coach Todd Reirden wanted to mix up the lines in the Capitals’ 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers last Thursday.
With Boyd returning to practice with the team on Sunday and the possibility of Wilson’s suspension being shortened as the appeal process with neutral arbitrator Shyam Das gets underway on Wednesday, it is unclear what Jaskin’s future with the team is. The Capitals could put Jaskin on waivers when Wilson is eligible to return or keep him as an extra forward but Jaskin will most likely want to play.
Though the team needs to get some playing time in for forward Nathan Walker, the team has had the option of playing Walker, 23, over Jaskin but have passed. The team also has some kids in Hershey like forwards Sergei Shumakov and Shane Gersich, who could see some time in the NHL in the near future, waiting for ice time in the big leagues.
With kids in Hershey waiting for playing time and Wilson and Boyd’s return looming, it is unclear what the Capitals will do with Jaskin when they get their lineup back at full strength. One thing is for sure: when the competition starts to heat up again, big decisions will have to be made. We will just have to wait and see.
By Harrison Brown