A pair of top prospects are expected to skate when the Washington Capitals visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
Both teams were sellers leading up to Friday’s trade deadline and that — plus injuries, in Washington’s case — opened some roster spots.
The Sharks recalled top prospect William Eklund, a 20-year-old forward, from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League. Eklund has 17 goals and 24 assists, and his 41 points are tied for third-most among AHL rookies.
The seventh overall pick in the 2021 draft appeared in nine NHL games last season and had four assists.
“It’ll be like the first time I think,” Eklund told the San Jose Mercury News about his return. “It’s one thing that I’ve missed a lot, being able to step on the ice at SAP Center. It’s going to be really fun.”
The Capitals will counter with perhaps their top defensive prospect, Vincent Iorio, who, along with fellow defenseman Gabriel Carlsson, was recalled from the Hershey Bears of the AHL.
Iorio, 20, was Washington’s first selection (second round, 55th overall pick) in the 2021 draft and will make his NHL debut.
“I’m a pretty happy guy, so obviously it’s pretty cool — it’s a childhood dream of mine for sure,” Iorio told reporters. “But I’m here now, I got to stay in the present and that’s all that matters.”
The Sharks were busy on the trade front as well Friday. They sent forward Nick Bonino to the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of a three-team trade and received prospect Arvid Henriksson and a 2023 seventh-round draft pick. They dealt center Vladislav Namestnikov to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2025 fourth-round draft pick, and they traded forward Scott Reedy to the Dallas Stars for forward Jacob Peterson.
The Capitals, having traded away five players in the week leading up to the deadline, re-signed one potential free agent, forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel, to a one-year contract extension on Friday.
San Jose looks to salvage the finale of a seven-game homestand Saturday, having lost four straight games (0-3-1) and five of the first six. Last time out, the Sharks were doubled up by the St. Louis Blues, 6-3. San Jose led 2-0 after 20 minutes before St. Louis scored four consecutive goals in the second period.
“You can’t play a period like that and expect to win a hockey game,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “We went from playing a good brand of hockey to completely abandoning what we did in the first period. Just very sloppy and individualistic.”
Alexander Barabanov had a goal and an assist, and James Reimer made 17 saves for the Sharks.
The Capitals opened a three-game California swing with a 3-2 overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
Tom Wilson scored twice, including the game-winner at 1:09 of overtime. Martin Fehervary also scored, and Darcy Kuemper made 21 saves for the Capitals, who had lost seven of eight (1-7-0).
“It’s been a tough couple days,” Kuemper said. “We wanted to play hard for the remaining guys here and show that we’re not done yet.”
Wilson has seven goals in 14 games since making his season debut Jan. 8.
Capitals forward T.J. Oshie has a four-game point streak (four goals, three assists).
Washington defensemen Nick Jensen and Fehervary, who each left the win against Anaheim with injuries, didn’t practice Friday. It could open enough spots in the lineup for not only Iorio, but also Rasmus Sandin, a 22-year-old defenseman the Capitals acquired from Toronto earlier in the week.
San Jose defeated the Capitals 4-1 in Washington on Feb. 12.
–Field Level Media