The Washington Capitals announced on Wednesday morning that they have recalled forward Mike Sgarbossa from the AHL-leading Hershey Bears. Sgarbossa, Hershey’s leading point scorer, makes his way to DC ahead of the Capitals’ game against the Florida Panthers after Evgeny Kuznetsov missed a second day of practice on Tuesday with an illness.
Head coach Spencer Carbery hinted after Tuesday’s skate that a recall could be coming when he was asked about Kuznetsov’s status. In addition to Sgarbossa joining the big club’s roster, the Capitals have also made the expected move of placing Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injured reserve.
Backstrom is just days removed from announcing that he’d be taking a leave of absence from the team due to his ongoing hip injury issues. The LTIR designation frees up his roster spot and gives the Capitals a major salary cap break.
NEWS | The Washington Capitals have recalled forward Mike Sgarbossa from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. In addition, the Capitals have placed forward Nicklas Backstrom on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR). https://t.co/yleygIxVYh
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 8, 2023
Sgarbossa has 12 points (3g, 9a) in 11 games to start the AHL season. The 31-year-old veteran has played in 17 games for the Capitals since the start of the 2019-20 season, recording six points (2g, 4a). His last game with the team came on January 8, 2022 against the Minnesota Wild.
Carbery gave a small update on Kuznetsov during his media availability on Wednesday. “(He’s) sick again today,” Carbery said. “So we’ll just have to play it by ear and see where he’s at physically. So no determination on tomorrow night.”
Kuznetsov did take the ice before Wednesday’s morning skate but could be deemed not ready enough to go against the Panthers. Monumental Sports Network’s Tarik El-Bashir grabbed video of the Russian centerman taking a twirl in his normal, red practice jersey.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) November 8, 2023
Backstrom heads to LTIR just two days after general manager Brian MacLellan stated that it would be unlikely that the legendary center would play in another game this season. During that same press conference, MacLellan revealed that the team did plan on placing Backstrom on LTIR at some point.
“We haven’t talked about it yet but eventually we’ll get him to LTIR and then go from there,” MacLellan said. “I think we just need a little time to have things sort themselves out here. We’ll make that decision eventually.”
Backstrom remains under contract through the 2024-25 campaign with a $9.2 million annual cap hit. Connor McMichael, the team’s 2019 first-round draft pick, has been moved to his natural center position with Backstrom on the shelf.
Here’s the team’s press release on the two moves:
Capitals Recall Mike Sgarbossa
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have recalled forward Mike Sgarbossa from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), president and general manager Brian MacLellan announced today. In addition, the Capitals have placed forward Nicklas Backstrom on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR).
Sgarbossa, 31, leads Hershey in scoring with 12 points (3g, 9a) in 11 games this season and ranks tied for first on the team in game-winning goals (2).
The 6’0”, 185-pound center recorded 58 points (21g, 37a) in 60 regular-season games with Hershey in 2022-23, his fifth season with the Bears. Last season, Sgarbossa led Hershey in assists, points and power-play assists (16) and ranked tied for first on the team in game-winning goals (5), second in power-play points (18), tied for second in plus/minus (+19) and third in goals. Sgarbossa’s 58 points marked his highest single season point total since 2018-19 (65p in 75 GP), his first season with the Bears, while his 37 assists marked a career high. In 229 games with Hershey, Sgarbossa has recorded 206 points (82g, 124a).
The Campbellville, Ontario native has appeared in 17 games with the Capitals since the 2019-20 season, recording six points (2g, 4a). In 65 career NHL games with the Capitals, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche, Sgarbossa has recorded 16 points (4g, 12a). Sgarbossa has recorded 405 points (154g, 251a) in 541 career AHL games with the Bears, Manitoba Moose, San Diego Gulls, Springfield Thunderbirds, Lake Erie Monsters and Norfolk Admirals.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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