The Washington Capitals have swapped top prospects with their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. The team announced that they have recalled Jakub Vrana, as well as veteran Paul Carey, from the AHL and re-assigned rookie Zach Sanford.
This is the first call up for the 20-year-old Vrana, the 13th overall pick by the Capitals in 2014 NHL Draft, who could make his NHL debut tomorrow night against the division rival New York Islanders. The young Czech winger is a fast, skilled forward with scoring ability, much like fellow countryman and 2016-17 breakout star David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins. Vrana was nearly a point-per-game player with the Bears last season, but only played in 36 contests due to injury. Off to the same torrid start tho this season, with nine goals and seven assists in 18 games, Washington has decided to give him a chance to prove himself at the highest level. With another skilled winger, T.J. Oshie, currently sidelined with an injury, don’t be surprised to see Vrana slot in to Oshie’s spot tomorrow night.
The demotion of Sanford is nothing for Capitals fans to be discouraged about. As team beat writer Isabelle Khurshudyan points out, Washington is pressed for salary cap space and could not have promoted Vrana without making the corresponding move of exchanging him for the 2013 second-rounder. A Massachusetts native who starred at Boston College for two years before leaving early, Sanford jumped right into the Washington lineup out of training camp without ever playing a minor league game. Although a strong player at the college level, Sanford’s pro career has gotten off to a slow start with just one assist in 19 games with the Capitals. With his NHL ice time diminishing, Washington likely felt it was the right move to send the young forward down to the AHL, where he can re-discover his scoring touch.
From the Capitals to the Devils:
- New Jersey has placed Beau Bennett on the injured reserve, retroactive to this past Monday. During practice that day, Bennett suffered a bad cut on his right leg and had to leave the ice. He did not return to practice and was left behind when the team departed on its current road trip. Injuries have been an unfortunate story line in Bennett’s young career, but this one at least appears to be minor. Expect Bennett to be back on the ice when the Devils return home, unless New Jersey wishes to keep him sidelined longer as precaution or to give other players a longer look while he is out. Bennett has just seven points in 20 games so far in 2016-17.
- In his stead, New Jersey has recalled 2014 first-round pick John Quenneville from the AHL’s Albany Devils. The young forward, who has 17 points in 19 games thus far in his first pro season, will fly out to Chicago to join the team on their road trip. It’s possible that he will make his NHL debut against his own second cousin, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. The younger Quenneville will look to earn a regular spot on the team during this call-up stint. If he shows the scoring ability he has displayed in juniors and early on in the AHL, he might just stick around long enough to face his uncle, Johnny Boychuk, in February.