Carl Hagelin Continues To Skate, Tom Wilson And Nicklas Backstrom Participate In Optional Skate: Notes From Capitals’ Optional Skate On Monday

A few of the Washington Capitals returned to work on Monday for an optional skate following their 1-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night. The team will have a relatively light week this week, with a home-and-home set of games against the Flyers on Wednesday and Saturday the only games on the schedule.

Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson, who made their season debuts on Sunday night, participated in the team’s optional skate on Monday.

Carl Hagelin continues to skate before team practices. Hagelin didn’t stay on for the practice, but seems to be doing a little more each time he’s out there.

Anthony Mantha, a healthy scratch for Sunday night’s game , also participated in today’s optional skate.

Mantha spoke today about being a healthy scratch last night: “Obviously, the minutes were going down, so the decision to play me [9:48] in my last game there so, you kind of knew it was coming.” He characterized it as a “wake-up” call and wants to improve his work ethic.


The Capitals climb to the 50% faceoff winning percentage line has been impressive since hitting a season low (41.0%) on 10/29. [Click to enlarge].

The Capitals now sit at 49.8%. They have the 6th-best average in the league at 53.1% since December 1.

Bonus Stat – Shots Fired

Today’s bonus stat provides an update on the Capitals shots per game average (‘shots for’ per game average minus shots against per game average). [Click to enlarge].

The Capitals have leveled off at around +1.50, meaning they are averaging 1.5 more shots for than shots against per game. This could be a minor concern as the Capitals strength of competition has dipped significantly in recent weeks. For what it’s worth, John Carlson’s injury is also included, although there is no provable direct correlation between the leveling off and Carlson’s injury, at least in the context of this post.


Alexander Suzdalev was reunited with Connor Bedard on Sunday night. Bedard was making his first start with the Regina Pats following his participation in the 2023 World Juniors Championship. Bedard notched four goals – yes four – in his first game back. Suzdalev also recorded a goal on the power play.

Connor McMichael scored his 7th goal since returning to the Hershey Bears on Sunday night. McMichael is now 8th on the team in points per game average.

Aliaksei Protas recorded two assists in the Bears 4-3 win over the Syracuse Crunch on Sunday night. [More here.]

Bogdan Trineyev scored his first career goal in the KHL on Sunday. He now has a goal and four assists in 21 games played this season in the KHL. [More here.]

Finally, it’s being reported that Ryan Hofer has been traded from the Everett Silvertips to the Kamloops Blazers.

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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24 Responses to Carl Hagelin Continues To Skate, Tom Wilson And Nicklas Backstrom Participate In Optional Skate: Notes From Capitals’ Optional Skate On Monday

  1. hockeydruid says:

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE no return of Hagelin as not only are there other players who can do his job there are younger players we cannot afford to lose just to have him comeback. Sad to say but should have cut the man and reached a settlement with him rather than keeping him around. It seems that Wash would rather pay a player on the downside of his career a premium than give that spot to a younger player. There was AJF who could have taken his place and Snively and now NAK and seems that Protas and Johansson handled that spot very well and either Mantha or Milano will be playing there a lot the rest of the year or until the HC just has to make line changes for the sake of making a line change! Unless of course Eller and Mantha are traded. With Hofers stats this year and last and the massive trade is there any chance that he is in Hershey next season? With Eller I would think on his way our after this year and if he stays hopefully they would only offer him a 1 year deal, and both CMM and Lapierre looking good in Hershey and going to compete for a slot next year that would definitely open a slot in Hershey for him. At 21 do you think the jump to the NHL would be to much? Still cant believe that they gave up 4 players and 10 picks and only 1 of those picks is a conditional one. Talk about mortgaging your future for several years.

  2. hockeydruid says:

    LMAO…..reducing his minutes is a wake-u for Mantha. WOW. Time for his minutes to be on another team and take whatever they can get;mid to low pick or even a young man out of the minors, a left handed D-man would be nice.. Mantha was brought in to score and he doesnt seem to have that ability anymore. Some people leave their heart in San Fran he left his shot at home over the summer. Sad to say but at 28 if he doesnt know what he is suppose to do and needs a wake-up call he will never get it and Detroit fans told us that after the trade. This trade can be a total wash for both teams; Wash got rid of salary and a malcontent and Detroit got rid of a player who needed constant reminding of what his job was and went into hibernation regularly during the season.

    • horn73 says:

      yawn….so tired of the arguments for younger bottom 6 players that can’t beat out old guys. Just more of the everyone gets a tropy crowd druid. Younger players don’t play necessarily (unless you count Milano, Fehervary, Alexeyev,, Aube-Kubel and Strome, Protas…1 26 and the rest are younger).

      btw, below is responses to an awful post by you. Hopefully you see this time

      I wouldn’t describe Lavvy as a regular line changer. The Caps lines over the years are pretty much known but any Cap fan.

      I love your input Druid, but your thoughts on ruing the roster is insane.

      Addressing Your thoughts in order:

      First, no team is giving much for most of the players you want to shed and secondly still produce at a high level.

      1 – Agree on Mantha, but won’t get much

      2 – As much as 19 concerns me, he contributed at .6 points per game last season on one skate…I think he takes 3c and if healthy he’ll keep it. If not and he does retire, sign Bo Horvat

      3 – I think there is a better shot of me being on blue line for Caps than Orlov agreeing to 4-year deal. He’ll have many offers better/longer than that. But I do think he’d prefer to stay with Ovi buta long conversa won’t agree to 4 years to do so.

      4- I don’t completely disagree on Kuzy, but between Ovi relationship and pretty good numbers, I think he stays. But I am a goal scorer fan more so than assist guys. Trade him and sign Horvat…

      5 – Get rid of Oshi….you’ve lost your mind., but mainly due to lack of return, but 40% because he is the glue to the chemistry on the team. Oh yeah, and nobody will give much for him and secondly, if you just eat it by trading him and a #2 to unload him, you are getting rid of a still productive player. It’s not about us that disagree with you being upset…it is about it cost too much to get rid of him if we did agree with your premise which I don’t.

      6 – agree. Not sure that they sign all 4, but I like all 4. Will depend on Jensen and Orlov decisions. Some very good free agent defensemen available this offseason.

      7 – Similar to 6. Will depend on where GM decides to spend his big allocation for D on how many he retains. I think TVR gets a nice raise. Hopefully he stays with us. I was hoping they’d re sign him by now. GM does a good job of not falling in love because they are “ours”. Few thought he’d let both goalies go after last season, but he had a strong plan and thought he could get better goalies and accomplish the same. As much as I like what our defense has done, GM might be thinking, yeah, I’d like to keep a TVR or Gusty, but he may think he can get more value by finding the next Gusty/ TVR (righthander – more difficult to replace).

      8 – Agree in general. Biggest prioroty of them for me is Strome. But so much depends on what they do. If they keep Kuzy and 19, they Strome is all they can afford. If Backy does retire or Kuzy is traded, they they need to get legit 1 (Horvat) and ideally still re sign Strome. Brown likely to expensive and pretty risky coming off injury (when…???). Shearly may be pricing himself out, but hope they can afford. I like 15, but can’t keep everyone that scores under 15/20 goals.

      Second ramble / post….

      why risk Irwin or Kubel to waivers?? Well, let’s start with the simple answer, because you can’t force Backy to retire even if GM wanted to which I doubt he does. He’d probably love to be able to re structure his contract though. Second reason, you can’t be too afraid to dangle 4th lines and 3rd pair defensemen…As much as I like both, there is a reason they were both able to be “claimed”, which is the same reason you make them available again if needed. How disrespectful you are to Nicholas Backstrom is astounding.

      As an aside, you mentioned Eller… —-what would you give us if you were GM of a team looking for a center for Eller…a 3rd, 4th?? Maybe…for a 2 month rental…. please

      Lastly, you state; fail to see where a player who has not played in a game all year will be better than anyone we have on the ice now! So many answers to this stupid statement, but I will just drop the mic with 43, Tom Wilson.

      Druid, very unimpressive take brotha. Be grateful that most won’t take the time to call you out for such garbage as they don’t have the time.

      I take the other perspective…it is important to let folks know when they are wrong, especially when as wrong as you are.

      • KimRB says:

        “yawn….so tired of the arguments for younger bottom 6 players that”

        The question I have here is…..are the younger players NOT beating out the vets…..or is Laviolette purely refusing to see that a younger player deserves a job over the vet?

        Take Chara VS. Siegenthaler, for example. Chara was a shadow of himself, Father Time had definitely caught up with him. So Siefs asks for a trade, and is voted best defensive defenseman in the league. We gave that up to play the resurrected corpse of Zdeno Chara, and a 3rd and 6th round pick, just because Laviolette has something against younger players. Hoozah!

        • hockeydruid says:

          Lav has never liked or played younger players very much. He prefers to older player who needs less coaching and that way he knows what to expect. Basically he wants to be a HC and not really coach as he takes the easy way out with older players!

        • horn73 says:

          So Siegs won the Norris, I missed that. Sure, every team has a regret or two, but this he doesn’t play young players in nonessense.

          Milano (26), Fehervary (23 and played all of last year), Alexeyev (23), Aube-Kubel (26) and Strome (25), Protas (just turned 22), CMM (21 and played all of last year at 20)…

          Played 2 young goalies under 25 for 2 years….

          I mean your points would be great if they were correct.

          • novafyre says:

            Lavi stated on video after a morning practice some time ago that he preferred playing vets. He may be great in some areas, but teaching is not one of them. Doesn’t make him a bad person or even a bad coach, but he is not great when it requires teaching younger players. He wants his players to come in already trained and, in addition, able to play whatever position he decides to play them that night.

            • horn73 says:

              Fair points, but the NHL isn’t a developmental league. And eh/they do play young players. Fehercary plays top pairing d last year and this year and we still here about undersizes siegs…who’s team is falling pretty fast after an incredible start.

          • KimRB says:

            “So Siegs won the Norris”

            Nice strawman. Why don’t you curb your snark a little, stop being an asshole, and argue like an adult? The more I see of your posts, the more you look like a troll.

            I was responding to your remark that younger players hadn’t beaten out vets, by showing an instance where one had, as possible evidence that Laviolette may have a bias against younger players. And I was asking the question, in a polite manner. You responded with assholish snarkery. You cherry picked data to “prove” he doesn’t have a vet bias, by ignoring plenty of instances where he may have.

            Grow the fuck up, son.

            Not sure if I’m allowed to swear here. If not….. SORRY!

          • KimRB says:

            “Milano (26), Fehervary (23 and played all of last year), Alexeyev (23), Aube-Kubel (26) and Strome (25), Protas (just turned 22), CMM (21 and played all of last year at 20)…”

            He had a lot of injuries to deal with, and had to play someone. Youngsters were what he had left. Milano was drafted 8 years ago, and is far from a rookie, Strome 7 years ago. CMM sat in the press box for weeks this year, and saw little ice time when dressed, same for Snively.

            “Played 2 young goalies under 25 for 2 years….”

            So the Caps had a goalie over 30? I missed that (one snark deserves another). Unless you count Anderson on a PTO

            Your data doesn’t prove anything. My question is still valid. Did the vets beat out the youngsters, fair and square, or did Laviolette just not want to play them?

      • hockeydruid says:

        To be perfectly honest I dont give a French darn what you think or what yourself righteous conceited opinion is. Usually I give a person the benefit of the doubt but in your case Im making an exception and giving you the single digit finger and lots oif raspberries. If you dont like what my opinion is then feel free to ignore it as you really are a bench warmer sitting in the 3rd row or an arm chair QB. Its a shame that you are sop sanctimonious especially when you can hide behind a wall and no one know who you are. So please for the worlds sake go back into you closet and stay there! as no one cares what you think or what your perspective is! .

  3. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of players he hated and the genius fans thought could not play, Sprong with another goal tonight. I believe 13 with a similar number of assists and a similar plus/minus. Please understand players haven’t peaked at 24 years old before making more ridiculous posts about young players.

    • KimRB says:

      Sometimes players need a change of scenery, before they hit their stride.

      Sprong had chances in Anaheim, and Pittsburgh before we had him. Several players the Capitals have picked up for nothing have excelled with the team, after flaming out in other places, including Connolly, DSP, Sheary, Milano, Strome and Gustafsson.

      Who knows why they flop in one place, and tear up the ice in another? Maybe it’s coaching, maybe they like their teammates better, maybe his wife likes the coffee shops in the city, and he’s happy that she’s happy. It’s beyond the ken of us non-professional hockey player mortals.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sprong couldn’t/wouldn’t play a 200’ game, was a coaches nightmare (like Vrana) and why he was cut loose from Pittsburg, Anaheim and Washington. Most fans think it’s just about goals (which he racked up with Anaheim and Washington, and still got sent packing). Why would that be?

      • Anonymous says:

        Jakub Mantha, Anthony Sprong, Daniel Vrana….they are interchangeable and the same player, essentially. Uncoachable and unable to play the team game.

        • KimRB says:

          Mantha is 6’5″

          Even though he doesn’t use his size to its full advantage, he does bring something to the table Sprong and Vrana can’t. The old saying goes “you can’t teach size”

          They are NOT interchangeable

        • Anonymous says:

          Apparently in the right organization and right system a player can grow and fulfill one’s potential. Lots of examples of players leaving DC to find success. Sprong’s plus minus would lead the Caps. Maybe he can play 200 feet game given the chance. Schultz finding similar success away from HCPL. Maybe there is a correlation?

          • Anonymous says:

            Maybe not. Remember, Seattle waived Sprong recently. Schultz cost way too much money. He was ok, but Gustafson was a much better trade off, performance wise, but more importantly, saved the Caps $4 mill

  4. dwgie26 says:

    One of the things I like about this blog is that there are a lot of smart people here, particularly on the prospect side. I love opinions and cerebral facts based comments. I hate baseless flaming and uneducated rants from those who don’t understand the full stack of hockey (NHL, AHL, ECHL, Juniors, college) which you really need to understand to have these arguments. Most people here have it. Some don’t. But that is the world of message boards/blogs

    So I’ll point this post at Lavi whom some think is the worst coach ever which is sadly misguided. Here are some stats on HCPL:

    * Winningest American Born Head Coach
    * 3rd most wins of all active coaches (Lindy Ruff and Paul Maurice or first two)
    * Has won a stanley cup (2006) and taken two other teams to the finals (2010, 2017)
    * One of only four coaches to take three different teams to the Stanley Cup Finals
    * Winning record in the playoffs (76-72)

    Yes, Lavi prefers experienced players who understand the details of the game. I am ok with that because it is older teams that win the Stanley Cup while younger teams are rebuilding. From 2005 to 2019 the average age of cup winner was 29.2. Last three years have been slightly younger with Colorado at 28.2, TB at 27.7 and 28.4.

    So if you want to continue playing for the Stanley Cup through OV years (which I do), then you keep PL and enjoy the predominantly veteran lineup with youngsters continuing to fill in. If you want to rebuild and suffer through 10 years of suck, then fire PL and trade all of our veterans.

    • KimRB says:

      Thoughtful post, with solid observations, just will disagree on one point:

      “If you want to rebuild and suffer through 10 years of suck,”

      Rebuilds of 10 years of suck show serious mismanagement, a LA Buffalo. The Caps rebuild of 2004 resulted in the team being back in the playoffs by 2008. The Avalanche had a record of 22-56-4 in 2016-17, then won the Stanley Cup in 2022.
      Even Buffalo looks to be escaping from their perpetual rebuild. Rebuilds are fucking suck (to paraphrase Ovi), but they don’t last forever. In the Bettman parity NHL, they often don’t last long at all

      • dwgie26 says:

        I am scarred from those years. Had season tickets from 2001-2004. Didn’t realize they were in the playoffs that quick. Cause it sure felt like a lot longer than that, especially till they were truly dangerous.

        I agree with you… rebuilds don’t take nearly as long today. I don’t even think the Caps will have much of a rebuilt. We should have some good youth from system as OV retires, so we’ll have to sign some free agents. But right now, another Cup please!

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