With the NHL season barely a month old, the Washington Capitals’ bench is starting to look like a hospital ward. Injuries to not only key players but recent AHL callups are now taking a toll on this organization and again the 2022-23 season entered it’s second month. With a myriad of challenges lying ahead for head coach Peter Laviolette and Company, the Capitals need to find a way to keep players healthy and find some level of consistency with their nightly lineups.
Key player injuries are becoming a major issue for the Capitals.
To say that injuries are mounting up and starting to impact the Capitals’ bench is a major understatement. This past Wednesday T.J. Oshie, Beck Malenstyn and John Carlson were all placed on Injured Reserve. These injuries are in addition to key losses at the beginning of the season with Tom Wilson being out for an left knee ACL tear and both Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin out for hip surgery.
The latest blow to Beck Malenstyn has now been confirmed as a left hand finger fracture and Malenstyn will be sidelined at least six to eight weeks. The young winger was called up from the AHL’s Hershey Bears as a replacement for Connor Brown who went down with an ACL injury himself. Malenstyn made some impact in five games on the fourth line with two points, 15 hits and two blocked shots. However, as things appear, Malenstyn probably won’t be available realistically under around Christmastime or even the New Year.
Next man up.
This saying rings so very true for the Capitals right now as the deplented Caps’ bench gives more opportunities for top prospects to move up to the NHL-maybe sooner than expected. The Capitals are set to bring up forwards Sonny Milano, Garrett Pilon and defenseman Lucas Johansen to help replenish their disappearing line combinations.
Sonny Milano is set to join the Capitals after spending the early part of the season with Hersey. Milano logged 14 goals and 20 assists in 66 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season so he brings legitimate NHL experience to the Caps’ bench. Interestingly enough, Milano started training camp with the Calgary Flames on a Professional Tryout (PTO) contract and was cut before the season began. The Capitals signed Milano to a one-year, $750,000 deal last month and now his signing seems fortuitous. The Flames’ loss certainly now looks to be the Capitals’ gain as Milano hopefully brings some badly needed offensive firepower to a team who’s lost three straight games.
Other Capitals’ callups include Garrett Pilon and blueliner Lucas Johansen. Pilon has a goal and four assists early on so far with Hershey and Johansen was one of the last Caps’ training camp cuts in the preseason. Both players look to make something out of their callups and gain some valuable NHL playing experience. With injuries being the new “norm” within the Capitals organization, more callups will no doubt be necessary and Caps’ fans might as well start learning the names on the Hershey Bear roster-we will certainly be hearing some of these names soon.