Despite a strong 7-2-1 run in their last ten, the Washington Capitals remain in sixth place in the tough Metro, four points out of a divisional playoff spot. As they chase down the teams ahead of them, though some reinforcements are coming. Tom Wilson donned a regular jersey at practice today and skated on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, though the return for the first two is still a little way down the road. Wilson and Backstrom will not travel with the team to Ottawa according to Samantha Pell of the Washington Post, though Nic Dowd, Alex Alexeyev, and Darcy Kuemper will.
Wilson, 28, is one of the most unique players in the league, able to contribute at a high level offensively while still acting like a pseudo-enforcer on the ice. Racking up at least 93 penalty minutes in each of his nine NHL seasons, he had 24 goals and 52 points in 78 games last season. Since the Capitals never put him on long-term injured reserve, they can activate him without worrying about cap implications. Backstrom, whose $9.2MM cap hit has sat on LTIR all year, is a different story; the team will need to clear quite a bit to get him back on the roster.
- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev’s bank account took a little hit today, as he was fined $5,000 for slashing Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting last night. That is the maximum allowable fine under the current CBA. While it doesn’t seem like much, the incident will be considered in any future supplementary discipline decisions, and could lead to increased punishment down the line. For Tampa Bay, they at least are escaping Toronto with no suspensions, after being pummeled by the Maple Leafs in a performance head coach Jon Cooper called “a complete bag of you know what.”
- As expected, Arvid Holm has been returned to the minor leagues by the Winnipeg Jets, meaning Connor Hellebuyck has recovered enough from his illness to return to action. In his absence, David Rittich stopped 35 of 36 shots in a win over the Ottawa Senators, raising his save percentage to .909 on the year – his highest since 2018-19.