Saturday: With Kuemper back, the Capitals have reversed this transaction, sending Stevenson back to Hershey while recalling Protas.
Friday: The Washington Capitals today recalled netminder Clay Stevenson from the AHL’s Hershey Bears, as starter Darcy Kuemper will miss tonight’s season-opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins after welcoming a son last night. Forward Aliaksei Protas was loaned to Hershey to allow Washington the cap space to recall Stevenson.
Stevenson will backup Charlie Lindgren, who will start opening night for the Caps after recording a .899 save percentage in a career-high 31 games last season. The 24-year-old Stevenson has yet to make his NHL debut after signing with Washington as an undrafted free agent in 2022. In his first pro campaign last season, the former Dartmouth standout assumed the starting role for the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays. He appeared in 36 games there, recording a 2.54 goals-against average, .916 save percentage, three shutouts, and a 19-12-3 record. He also made three appearances for Hershey, going undefeated and posting a sparkling .924 save percentage and 1.96 goals-against average.
In 2023-24, Stevenson will be the primary AHL backup to Hunter Shepard, who broke out for Hershey en route to a Calder Cup win last season and captured the playoff MVP award.
Protas, meanwhile, still does not require waivers to head to the minors and was the odd man out with 2019 first-round pick Connor McMichael locking down a top-six role for opening night. The 22-year-old Belarusian was also a member of the Capitals’ 2019 class and stuck mostly in the NHL last season, notching 15 points in 58 contests. He’ll likely get recalled back to the Capitals’ NHL roster once Kuemper has rejoined the team and Stevenson is returned to Hershey.