Washington Capitals: Breaking down the 2021-22 Opening Night roster

It’s finally here folks. Hockey is back and your Washington Capitals will take the ice tomorrow night. A lot of news happened this morning and we will fill out in on every detail. You may recall yesterday that the team sent Connor McMichael and Beck Malenstyn to Hershey. Turns out that was just a paper transaction.

Today the team announced that Nicklas Backstrom has been placed on long term injured reserve or LTIR. That means he will miss at least the first 10 games. They also recalled McMichael and Malenstyn from Hershey which means they are in the opening night lineup.

Not only is McMichael in but we will also see the debut of Hendrix Lapierre as the 19 year old also made the roster. The Caps will open the season tomorrow night against the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m. on TNT.

The roster consists of 14 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goaltenders. Team Captain Alex Ovechkin leads the charge as he enters the season with 730 career goals and two goals shy of passing Marcel Dionne for fifth place on the NHL’s all time goals list. Ovechkin needs 37 goals this season to propel him to third all time which would allow him to pass Dionne, Brett Hull (741) and Jaromir Jagr (766).

Ovechkin didn’t skate at practice Sunday or Monday as the team said he was day to day with a lower body injury that he suffered in Friday’s preseason finale. However, he did skate at the team’s  optional today. He tricked us by leaving the ice early before coming back on.

Although Backstrom begins the season on LTIR, he was on the ice before the optional skate. It is the first time to our knowledge that he has been on the ice.

Here’s the roster:

Alex Ovechkin
Daniel Sprong
Nicklas Backstrom*
Lars Eller
Garnet Hathaway
Connor McMichael
Nic Dowd
Hendrix Lapierre
Anthony Mantha
Tom Wilson
Beck Malenstyn
Carl Hagelin
Conor Sheary
T.J. Oshie
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Justin Schultz
Nick Jensen
Dmitry Orlov
Martin Fehervary
Matt Irwin
Trevor van Riemsdyk
John Carlson

Ilya Samsonov
Vitek Vanecek

The Caps roster includes a plethora of returners from last season’s team. McMichael and Lapierre are both recent first round selections. Lapierre finished the preseason first on the team with five assists which was ranked fifth among rookies in points. Lapierre was selected in 2020 while McMichael was selected in 2019.

It should be an interesting night tomorrow and seeing either Ovechkin or McMichael in the lineup sounds like a win win.