Tuesday was a good day for Capitals defensemen Steve Oleksy, John Erskine and Nate Schmidt.
For Dmitry Orlov and Tomas Kundratek, not so much.
With Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline looming, the Caps’ blue line underwent some significant changes when the team sent Orlov and Kundratek back to the AHL Hershey Bears, making room for rookie Steve Oleksy to remain with the big club
Erskine, who sat out the previous 12 games with an upper body injury, returned to the Caps’ lineup against the Carolina Hurricanes, sending Jeff Schultz to the press box.
Meanwhile, Schmidt, 21, signed a two-year, free-agent contract with the Caps and packed his bags for D.C., where he’ll join the Caps for Wednesday’s practice at Kettler.
Goaltender Michal Neuvirth also returned to the lineup, backing up Braden Holtby and allowing Philipp Grubauer to be returned to Hershey.
And for those wondering, yes, Mike Ribeiro is still a Capital and likely will be for the remainder of the season.
Ribeiro, the Caps’ leading scorer with 35 points in 35 games, reportedly turned down a three-year, $14 million offer by the Caps last week. But with the Capitals knocking on the door of a playoff spot, Caps general manager George McPhee appears reluctant to trade his most productive offensive player for draft picks and/or prospects.
Kundratek, 23, registered seven points (one goal, six assists) in 25 games with the Capitals this season. He ranks tied for eighth among rookie defensemen in scoring and has skated an average of 16:08 per game this season.
Orlov, 21, registered an assist and a plus-five rating in five games with the Caps after missing three months with a concussion.
He’ll return to Hershey, where he had 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) and 16 penalty minutes in 22 games this season.