Washington Capitals defense prospect Vincent Iorio will be back in DC in the coming weeks for the NHLPA Rookie Showcase, Rookie Camp, and then the ensuing Caps main NHL training camp. According to Capitals associate general manager Chris Patrick, who helped manage the Hershey Bears last season, the ideal plan would be to have Iorio around the Caps pretty often this season.
Patrick told NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti that he would like to see Iorio get an extended look in the NHL this season before transitioning to full-time duties during the 2024-25 campaign.
Iorio, a 2021 second-round draft selection, made his NHL debut and played three games with the Caps last season.
“My ideal development world for him would be he plays anywhere from 10-20 games with Washington this year and then next year is more into full-time duty,” Patrick said. “I don’t know if that will happen because of other bodies or whatever, but I think if he continues on his current track, that would be very attainable for him.”
Patrick’s comments line up with how the Caps are currently constructed on the backend.
The three highest-paid defensemen on the Caps’ roster are all right-sided players, where Iorio will eventually fit into the picture. John Carlson, Nick Jensen, and Trevor van Riemsdyk all currently occupy those spots and are signed through 2025-26.
Joel Edmundson, who the Caps acquired via trade this offseason, is an unrestricted free agent next summer and will likely free up a sixth or seventh defensemen position on the team once he departs. Iorio still has three seasons left on the entry-level contract he signed in October of 2021 (the last two seasons slid because he did not play in 10 NHL games).
Iorio spent the vast majority of last year in the AHL with the Hershey Bears in his rookie pro season. The right-handed blueliner got into 63 games for the Bears, recording 22 points (2g, 20a). He also played in 15 of Hershey’s playoff games and helped the team lift the franchise’s 12th Calder Cup.
The 20-year-old rearguard made his NHL debut with the Caps against the San Jose Sharks on March 4, skating 14:48 of ice time and tallying his first NHL point with an assist on Alex Ovechkin’s 815th career goal.
“He’s is one of the greatest to ever play the game,” Iorio said of Ovechkin. “It’s pretty special to get my first point on one of his goals. I look up to [Ovi], a lot of players look up to him and I’m happy.”
Iorio would then get into two more games with the Caps, skating the most minutes in his short stint with the big club against the Los Angeles Kings (15:57). His eventual demotion soon after was not due to any sort of performance-related reasons as it came in response to both Martin Fehervary and Nick Jensen returning from their respective injuries.
Barring any preseason injuries, the 20-year-old rearguard will head back to a stacked Hershey squad this fall as they prepare to defend their title. He should be one of the first names on the recall list given Patrick’s comments.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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