By Chris Gordon
On Saturday morning, as the roads piled up with cars driven by Washingtonians befuddled by winter, the Capitals jumbled their roster, calling up Zach Sanford from the AHL.
Sanford started the season with the Caps, playing 19 games. After only registering one point in NHL, he was sent down to the minors at the end of November. In just six games with the Bears, Sanford scored four goals (including his first professional marker) and had three assists, earning his call up back to the Caps.
“It was good for me,” Sanford said of his time in Hershey, which was his first experience in the AHL after signing with Washington out of college. “I thought I went in with a good mindset. I was going to work as hard as I could and not be pissed off about anything. It turned out well for me.”
Sanford said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz kept in touch will him while the 22-year-old was in the minors. Earlier this week, Trotz texted Sanford to inform him he would rejoin the Capitals when they faced Montreal Canadiens.
The Capitals had an optional morning skate Saturday after playing Friday night in Raleigh, North Carolina, with eight players taking part, including Sanford. He looks likely to play Saturday night against the Canadiens.
Andre Burakovsky, who hasn’t scored since a two goal performance on opening night, appears to be a healthy scratch for the third straight game. Along with Taylor Chorney, Burakovsky stayed on the ice late to work on conditioning, usually a surefire sign the player will not suit up. If Sanford gets in the lineup, another forward will also have to sit. Brett Connolly is the most plausible candidate to roam the press box along with Burakovsky and Chorney.
Trotz will speak to reporters at 5 pm at Verizon Center, though we may not know how Washington will lineup with Montreal until right before the puck drops.
The Capitals made Sanford call up without a corresponding move that would have sent a forward down in his place. That puts Washington in an awkward position, with 14 forwards and only 12 spots in the lineup. Unless Daniel Winnik is scratched and the fourth line is reconstituted, either Jakub Vrana, Burakovsky, or Sanford will have to sit. All three are high level prospects.
According to CapFriendly.com, the Sanford move leaves the Capitals with $237 in salary cap space, which means they won’t be buying anyone an iPad Mini for Christmas.
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