The Washington Capitals announced they have loaned young forward Connor McMichael to the Hershey Bears, their AHL affiliate. No corresponding move was made. Of note, however, is that T..J. Oshie, who is currently on IR with a lower-body injury, was seen warming up at Capitals practice this morning in a regular jersey, as opposed to the non-contact jersey he had been wearing, according to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell suggests that not only Oshie, but also defenseman Dmitry Orlov could be ready for a return to action. Should both activated, the Capitals would have to send another player down. Washington next plays on Wednesday night at home against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The choice to loan McMichael to Hershey, especially if it is in fact to make room for Oshie, does make good sense. For one, McMichael, unlike many of his Capitals teammates, is exempt from waivers. On top of that, the forward hasn’t played much this season despite being healthy, getting into just six of the team’s 20 games to date. Having been considered one of Washington’s top prospects since they drafted him 25th overall in 2019, McMichael hasn’t been able to truly take the next step in his development as an NHLer, recording just 18 points in 75 career games.
Sending McMichael down today also makes sense for Washington with Hershey set to take on the Hartford Wolf Pack this afternoon at home. Although the Ontario native has already shown he can handle AHL hockey, putting up 27 points in 33 games in his only appearance back in 2020-21, the trip back to Hershey may simply be an opportunity for McMichael to skate in every game and receive important minutes in the process, something he had not been getting with Washington, as the NHL club looks to dig out of an early hole in the standings.