The Washington Capitals announced Sunday morning that they have assigned goaltenders Vitek Vanecek and Pheonix Copley to the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Vanecek, the Capitals announced, will only be with Hershey on a conditioning loan after spending time on injured reserve. Copley, meanwhile, will remain in Hershey.
The Capitals had been without the steady Vanecek since he was injured in a game February 1st against the Pittsburgh Penguins. While Vanecek has been strong in net for the Capitals this season with a .915 save percentage and 2.39 goals-against average, his net-partner Ilya Samsonov has struggled to a .905 save percentage and 2.85 goals-against average. Vanecek’s return should provide a more reliable presence in net for the Capitals, while allowing them to put Samsonov in for favorable matchups.
The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell suggests that Vanecek will likely play tonight for Hershey and if all goes well, he could be recalled to Washington in time for their game tomorrow night against Toronto.
Also sent down to Hershey is Copley, who had only played in two games after being recalled in the wake of Vanecek’s injury. Copley had not played in the NHL before this season since he suited up for 27 games with the Capitals back in the 2018-19 season. Since he does not need waivers, Copley should join Hershey immediately and remain available to the Capitals should they need him down the stretch.