Vincent Iorio was called up by the Capitals from the AHL’s Hershey Bears earlier this week and made his NHL debut against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Iorio then featured in the team’s lineup again on Monday in a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
It appears that the 2021 second-round draft selection’s time in DC might be over soon despite the team’s low chances of making the postseason.
General manager Brian MacLellan hinted to 106.7 The Fan’s Grant and Danny that the top defensive prospect’s recall would just be temporary as the injury situation on team’s blueline clears up.
MacLellan made the comments on Monday when asked about the team’s current youth movement.
“It’s happening now,” MacLellan said. “We have Sandin. He played a third-pair role in Toronto. He’s going to get a top-pairing assignment here and get to play first power play (unit minutes). That’s going to be great for his development. He’s still young. He’s 23 years old. Alexeyev is getting an opportunity. He hasn’t; he’s been in and out of the lineup which is tough on a young guy to get consistent, but he’s had a couple good games in a row. And then you know we have Iorio who we’re taking advantage of the injury situation, to get him up for a couple games. I think where we’re at now – we have windows where we can check out guys, see where they’re at, and help them develop.”
Iorio’s window seems to be as long as veteran defenseman Nick Jensen remains unable to get back into the lineup. According to The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir, Jensen is practicing on Wednesday but is still not donning a regular, full-contact jersey just yet after suffering an upper-body injury against the Anaheim Ducks a week ago.
In the two NHL games that the right-handed Iorio has received, he tallied his first NHL point with an assist on an Alex Ovechkin goal against the Sharks and played almost 16 minutes against the Kings.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Iorio said after his debut. “I told myself I wasn’t going to be nervous. Then first shift, the pace of play is pretty fast so I had to adjust to it.”
Iorio is just the fourth defenseman from the 2021 NHL Draft class to make his big league debut.
“I like to keep myself in the present,” Iorio said. “Realizing that I have the Caps gear on and I’m a part of this team now, it’s pretty special and it’s a childhood dream of mine for sure. But like I said, I just want to be in the present and focused for tomorrow.”
Iorio was sent down to Hershey on NHL trade deadline day before his eventual recall in a paper transaction which will allow him to play with the Bears for the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign and the entirety of the Calder Cup playoffs.
For now, at the NHL level, Iorio’s next and possibly final shot with the Caps this season could come on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. At practice on Wednesday, he skated on the extra defense pairing with a rehabbing John Carlson.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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