By Ian Oland
Aliaksei Protas may be one of the Capitals’ best process players this season, but the talented forward is headed back to the minor leagues.
This morning, after the Capitals’ pulled out a 4-3 overtime victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington sent “Pro” back to the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
The Belorussian forward could suit up for Hershey as soon as tonight, as the Bears take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7 pm.
Ahead of tonight's game at Lehigh Valley, the @Capitals have loaned forward Aliaksei Protas to Hershey.
Donegal Insurance Group | Roster Moves
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) February 1, 2023
Including tonight’s game, the Bears play a total of four times before the Capitals’ season restarts on February 11. The Bears have three games this week, including a back-to-back against Bridgeport and Lehigh Valley this weekend, before taking on Utica next Friday on the road.
The move will allow the Caps to bank some money against the salary cap (the NHL Trade deadline in March 3), but will most importantly give Protas some games again. The center, who can also play wing, appeared in eight games during the month of January including three in the NHL. It sounds busy, but since January 15, Protas suited up once: on January 24 against the Colorado Avalanche.
Despite his strong play this season, Protas was optioned to Hershey on January 7 to accommodate Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson returning to the active roster as he was the only young forward who remained waivers exempt. After five games in Hershey, Protas returned to the Capitals 10 days later after the Caps lost Nic Dowd to injury to a lower-body injury against the New York Islanders.
Here’s the full press release from the Washington Capitals:
Capitals Loan Aliaksei Protas to Hershey
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have loaned forward Aliaksei Protas to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today.
Protas, 22, has recorded 10 points (3g, 7a) in 42 games with Washington this season. The 6’6”, 235-pound forward appeared in 33 games with Washington during the 2021-22 season, ranking second among Capitals rookies in plus/minus (+4) and third in points (9). In 75 career NHL games with the Capitals, Protas has recorded 19 points (6g, 13a).
In five games with Hershey this season, Protas has recorded three assists. The Vitebsk, Belarus native recorded 24 points (8g, 16a) in 42 games with the Bears in 2021-22, establishing AHL career highs in goals, assists, points and power play goals (2) and earning Hershey’s Rookie of the Year award. Protas has recorded 34 points (10g, 24a) in 63 career AHL games with Hershey.
The Capitals selected Protas with their third-round pick, 91st overall, in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Headline photo: Tori Hartman/Hershey Bears
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