Last week the 24 NHL teams entering the upcoming 2020 playoffs submitted to the league office their list of prospects they wish to be included in their training camp and playoff rosters. Teams are allowed to have 30 skaters and unlimited goaltenders for training camp and 28 skaters and unlimited goaltenders for their official postseason roster.
The Capitals currently have 22 players (13 forwards, 7 defensemen, 2 goaltenders) on their active roster.
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin – Lars Eller – Ilya Kovalchuk
Richard Panik – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway
Brenden Dillon – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Nick Jensen
Michal Kempny – Jonas Siegenthaler
[Brendan Leipsic was waived by the Capitals on May 8, leaving 20 skaters and two goaltenders on their active roster.]
As previously noted, teams will be allowed 30 skaters and as many goaltenders as they want for training camp, which begins July 10. The training camp roster will need to be trimmed by two, leaving 28 skaters and unlimited goaltenders for the final postseason Roster. This leaves roster space for 10 additional skater callups for training camp.
There are essentially two primary goals for the call-ups.
- Pure development – the extra roster spots will allow teams to call-up top-tier prospects for much needed instruction and workouts.
- Playoff depth – extra roster spots will also be key to fortify their playoff roster.
So, who will the Capitals call-up for the training camp roster and 2020 playoff roster? Here are the likely players:
- Beck Malenstyn (Confirmed) – Malenstyn mentioned in a Zoom call that he will be reporting to the Capitals for the upcoming training camp and 2020 Playoffs. Malenstyn looked comfortable in his first callup to the big club earlier this season, and could provide additional grit in a tough series.
- Connor McMichael (Confirmed) – The prospect phenom needs ice time with a higher level of competition. Even if there are no real plans to work him into a playoff game, he would greatly benefit from time with the big club.
- Brian Pinho (Projected) – Pinho was simply the most productive Capitals forward prospect during the 2019-2020 season. The second-year forward had four goals and 12 points in his rookie season in 2018-19, but this past year, he posted a 37-point campaign, including hitting the 20-goal mark. Pinho was also named the “Most Improved Player” for the Bears this season.
Garrett Pilon (Projected) – Pilon has shown steady progress during his time in Hershey, and has demonstrated next-level (NHL) skills. Pilon recorded a strong sophomore season for the Bears, finishing the year with 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) over 61 games. He was named the Bears ‘Unsung Hero’ for the 2019-2020 season.
- Damien Riat (Projected) – Riat signed to a two-year entry deal with the Capitals back in March. Riat will ultimately be making his next stop in Hershey next season, and will get a closer look By Capitals coaches and management In the mean time. He has been working hard in the gym over the past month and could be a surprise in the upcoming training camp.
- Mike Sgarbossa (Projected) – The Capitals will balance the youth callups with a player that can score, and is known well by Capitals coaches and management. Sgarbossa could also be a surprise in the Capitals training camp.
- Daniel Sprong (Projected) – a trade deadline acquisition, the Capitals brass will want to get a closer look at the new guy. He has a very high offensive upside, but defense is a significant problem, and the reason he was jettisoned by Pittsburgh and Anaheim.
- Tyler Lewington (Confirmed) – Lewington also noted on a zoom call in early May that he will be reporting to Capitals for the 2020 playoffs. This is a no brainer. Lewington is defensively responsible and can provide a bit of extra grit if needed in the postseason.
- Martin Fehervary (Confirmed) – as we first reported last month, Fehervary has been told that he will be reporting to Washington as a “black ace” when play resumes. Fehervary looked comfortable in the six games he played for the Capitals this season, and is extremely responsible in his own end. He stated he’s been told he will be starting as the 7th or 8th defenseman on the roster.
- Alex Alexeyev (Confirmed) – Last week a source confirmed that Alexeyev is indeed on his way to training camp. Alexeyev will be included for pure development purposes, and will likely be one of the two that is cut from training camp roster. He is still very raw, but has demonstrated elite-level potential during his rookie campaign in Hershey. He needs ice time. Period.
- Vitek Vanecek (Confirmed) – Vanecek, four years younger and $400,000 cheaper than Copley, is a serious contender for backup playing time in Washington next season. He needs time with the big club, and should get it. Even if he’s just practicing and getting use to NHL life, the selection is well worth it.
- Pheonix Copley (Confirmed) – Copley has also noted in an interview that he will be called up when play resumes.
Other Candidates Who Could Find A Spot
There could be tweaks to the aforementioned projected rosters, should the Capitals lean more towards developmental callups, or identify specific needs for the postseason roster. Adding one of the following players would mean bumping one of the aforementioned players.
- Liam O’Brien – If the Capitals want additional grit for the postseason run, O’Brien would replace one of the aforementioned forwards identified for primarily developmental purposes. This could very well happen.
- Shane Gersich – Gersich could also get a callup if the Capitals want to add postseason experience to the roster. Gersich showed some improvement this season in Hershey and could also use development time.
- Axel Jonsson-Fjallby – Fjallby has shown positive development during his time in Hershey, however, he would be a pure development callup.
- Joe Snively – Snively had a good year in Hershey. His callup would be strictly developmental.
- Phil Maillet – If the Capitals are scratching for scoring, Maillet could be a dark horse callup. He was simply the Bears best offensive weapon for a good portion of the 2019-2020 season.
- Aliaksei Protas – Protas is still very raw, but would greatly benefit from development time with the Capitals.
- Brett Leason – He would be a pure developmental callup. He struggled most of the season in Hershey, and never found his stride in his rookie campaign. He also needs ice time.
By Jon Sorensen