The Washington Capitals did some heavy recruiting on left winger Zach Sanford back in the summer, writes Tom Gulitti of NHL.com. Although the team had his exclusive rights for at least one year, they wanted to sign him a year early for a couple of reasons. One of those was a concern that his development might stagnate if he played at the lower level for another year while another was to avoid any possibility of him opting for unrestricted free agency like Jimmy Vesey did before joining the Rangers or former Washington prospect Thomas Di Pauli did before joining Pittsburgh.
For his part, Sanford admitted to needing a bit of convincing to turn pro early:
“I was pretty set on going back to school and they told me I had a chance to make the team. I thought I might not ever get this opportunity again, so I had to take advantage of it.”
Sanford has been up with the team all season, appearing in three of five games while alternating with Brett Connolly in the lineup. He has been held off the scoresheet so far but is averaging a respectable 11:55 per contest. Despite being in and out of the lineup, head coach Barry Trotz told Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post that there are no plans to send him to their AHL affiliate in Hershey at this time.
More from the Metropolitan Division:
- Despite picking up his first goal of the season over the weekend, Rangers center Josh Jooris could be in danger of losing his roster spot in the immediate future, opines Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. The Rangers are carrying the maximum 23 players on the roster and Pavel Buchnevich is nearing a return to the lineup. If Chris Kreider’s neck injury is a short-term one as expected, the team will have to waive someone to make room for Buchnevich. The primary candidates are Jooris and defenseman Dylan McIlrath but given McIlrath’s first round pedigree, the more likely candidate to be risked on the waiver wire would seem to be the 26 year old Jooris.
- Bryan Bickell has impressed Carolina head coach Bill Peters so far this season despite playing on the fourth line, writes Chip Alexander of the Carolina News and Observer. Bickell has yet to pick up a point through five games but Peters highlighted his physicality as a strength so far. Despite not scoring in a year and a half, the Hurricanes have used Bickell regularly on the power play in the hopes of getting something from the veteran. Back in the offseason, the team acquired Teuvo Teravainen from Chicago but had to assume the remainder of Bickell’s contract to do so. With a cap hit of $4MM and a salary of $4.5MM, it’s unlikely that Carolina will be able to flip him during the season unless they can help him rediscover his form from a few years ago with the Blackhawks.
- After clearing waivers over the weekend, veteran winger Eric Boulton has not yet reported to Bridgeport of the AHL, affiliate of the New York Islanders. Michael Fornabaio of the Connecticut Post notes (via Twitter) that Boulton is currently “sorting family issues”. Boulton signed a two-way deal in the offseason but has only played two AHL games since the 1999-2000 season.