After just one season in North America, Damien Riat is headed back to Switzerland. The Washington Capitals have loaned the winger to Lausanne HC for the 2021-22 campaign after he spent this year with the Hershey Bears. The release does specify that he will be eligible to return to North America at the end of his National League season, though it’s unclear really where his future in the Capitals organization lies.
Riat, 24, was a fourth-round pick of the Capitals back in 2016, but didn’t sign until 2020 when his draft rights were about to expire. The two-year entry-level contract he signed then covers the 2021-22 season, but Riat will be a restricted free agent next summer. The team can retain his rights with a qualifying offer, but one has to wonder if a permanent return to Switzerland is coming.
The young forward scored just three goals and nine points in 33 games for Hershey this year, joining them once the AHL got started. In the early part of the season he was playing for Geneve Servette in Switzerland, where he found much more success, tallying 18 points in 20 games. That National League success is nothing new for Riat, who has six seasons under his belt at the highest level back home.
We’ll have to wait and see if there is a path to the NHL for Riat and whether he returns at all after his overseas season is concluded, but he won’t be helping Hershey in the early part of the year.