By Chris Gordon
The Washington Capitals finalized their opening night roster on the team’s off day Monday, one day before the NHL’s deadline to whittle the horde of training camp veterans, prospects and tryouts to the core group teams will start the season with.
Making the team is forward Zach Sanford, a 21-year-old prospect out of Boston College. The Capitals have been fond of him since last summer’s development camp. When training camp began a few weeks ago, associate coach Todd Reirden singled Sanford out as a player to watch in the battle to make perhaps the most talented roster in the league. Sanford impressed during the preseason. During exhibition games, the 2013 second-round pick confirmed the Caps’ hopes for him with with two goals, lots of shots and poised play on both ends of the ice.
“I think he’s regular the way he’s played,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “That’s good on him.”
The young Boston College product will likely beat out veteran Brett Connolly, who the Capitals signed this past offseason to a one-year deal, to dress against the Pittsburgh Penguins when the regular-season opens on Thursday night. Sanford has recently skated on the third line with Lars Eller and Marcus Johansson. Here’s a look at what may end up being the Caps lines to start the year.
“He can be trusted,” Trotz said of Sanford. “When you have trust, it doesn’t matter if the guy’s 22 or 32.”
Sanford’s presence on the team means Washington sent forward Zach Sill and defensemen Aaron Ness to the Hershey Bears, assuming they clear waivers. This leaves the Capitals with 22 players in their squad, one below the league maximum. They now have 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies on the NHL list.
#Caps have released Aaron Ness and Zach Sill from their training camp roster. Both players must clear waivers prior to reporting to Hershey.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) October 10, 2016
“[I]f we get to the point where we maybe only carry one D and one extra forward, then that allows us to get down to the whole roster in Hershey,” said Trotz. “We feel like we have a lot of people down there who can compete and contribute in different roles too.”
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