Aliaksei Protas is *technically* back on the Hershey Bears’ roster. For now.
Protas has bounced between the AHL and NHL countless times in recent months and has not featured in a Caps game, for reasons unknown, since February 12.
The somewhat strange demotion leaves the Caps with an open roster spot as they’re now carrying just 22 players. The team did not make any additional trades at the NHL’s trade deadline.
NEWS | The Capitals have loaned forward Aliaksei Protas to the Hershey Bears.#ALLCAPS https://t.co/O8jA6FQJXK
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 3, 2023
Earlier in the day, the Caps recalled defensemen Vincent Iorio and Gabriel Carlsson. They also sent down Dylan McIlrath. Protas was apparently a part of those transactions according to Hershey’s play-by-play man, Zach Fisch.
Carlsson, Iorio, Protas, and McIlrath were all loaned to Hershey and on @TheHersheyBears roster by 3 p.m., making them eligible for the remainder of the AHL season and the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Carlsson and Iorio have since been recalled to #Caps.
— Zack Fisch (@zackfisch) March 3, 2023
As Fisch states, all four of those players were moved to Hershey before the 3 pm AHL deadline today which will allow them to play for Hershey at any time through the end of the Bears’ season, including the Calder Cup Playoffs. Iorio and Carlsson were then recalled to the NHL level after that and practiced today with the Caps.
Protas has often been a healthy scratch in his latest stints with the big club after playing regularly for the entire first half of the regular season. He has recorded 10 points (3g, 7a) in 43 games, and with the young Belorussian on the ice at five-on-five, the Caps have seen 55 percent of the shot attempts, 56.4 percent of the expected goals, 52.9 percent of the scoring chances, and 56.3 percent of the high-danger chances. Frankly, he’s been dominant.
In eight games with Hershey this season, Protas has also put up five points (2g, 3a).
Given that the Caps are purposefully only carrying 22 skaters at the moment, this could just be another paper transaction. There is a chance that Protas will be back in the NHL before ever stepping foot in Hershey.
Here’s the full press release from the team:
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 43 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 76 career NHL games with the Capitals, Protas has recorded 19 points (6g, 13a).
In eight games with Hershey this season, Protas has recorded five points (2g, 3a). 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 36 points (12g, 24a) in 66 career AHL games with Hershey.
The Capitals selected Protas with their third-round pick, 91st overall, in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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