By Ian Oland
Carl Hagelin’s hockey future has encountered another roadblock. The fourth-line winger is now scuffling through a major injury unrelated to his eye.
Hagelin did not take the ice for the Capitals’ fitness test on the first day of Training Camp, Thursday. It’s unclear when he’ll join the team out on the ice.
“He has a lower-body injury that needs to be addressed and we’re working through the final parts of it right now,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. “He’ll be out indefinitely.
“It’s been an issue that lingered that he played with,” MacLellan added. “It’s gotten worse as time’s gone on. It’s at a bad point right now.”
Hagelin and the Capitals are debating the next steps in his recovery and “Nothing’s definite,” MacLellan said. “It’ll sort itself out in the next few days. We’ll have more information as the decision is made.”
Even worse, MacLellan indicated that Hagelin’s vision is not where it needs to be for him to return to the ice for NHL games.
The Swedish forward missed every game after February 28 last season due to an errant high stick he took during a practice. A teammate’s stick blade ruptured the choroid in the back of his left eye, forcing him to undergo two surgeries to try and repair the issue. Hagelin said on Breakdown Day in May that his vision will never return to 100 percent.
“It’s still improving so it’s inconclusive at this point where he’s at,” MacLellan said. “He’ll have some time here because of the other thing going on to heal and see where it goes.”
With this news, Hagelin seems destined to land on long-term injured reserve, joining Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson on the list. The cap savings for these three players would be $17.12 million and, with the Caps approximately $6.3 million over the cap, it would give the team just a shade over $10.7 million in cap space heading into the regular season.
Candidates to likely vie for Hagelin’s job on the fourth line include Marcus Johansson, Henrik Borgstrom, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (Hagelin is his idol), and Joe Snively.
Hagelin seemingly had been making good progress over the summer, ditching his baby blue practice jersey (meaning he could absorb contact) and rocking a Dany Heatley-like visor during the team’s informal skates. But The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir noticed that Hagelin would not always participate in the intense conditioning drills following the team’s scrimmages.
The 34-year-old Hagelin is in the final year of his contract and has a cap hit of $2.75 million per season.
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