What does NHL roster freeze mean for the Caps?

What does NHL roster freeze mean for the Caps?
December 20, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Washington Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) makes a save on Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) during a shootout at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 5-4 in a shootout.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

The NHL’s holiday roster freeze took effect at 11:59 Thursday night and will remain in place until 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 28.

What does that mean for the Capitals, who are carrying three goalies, a minor league callup [Casey Wellman] and may have Brooks Laich ready to come off their long-term injury reserve on Monday?

Not as much as you may think.

Essentially, the Caps can’t make a trade between now and next Friday. But according to Caps assistant general manager Don Fishman, players can be recalled from the AHL at any time during the roster freeze, and players can be loaned from the NHL to the AHL in certain circumstances.

[RELATED: Laich antsy to return]

With that in mind, the Caps, who are now one above the NHL limit of 24 players, are likely to send goaltender Philipp Grubauer [3-0-1, 2.06 GAA, .937 save percentage] back to the Hershey Bears.

Grubauer is expected to get another start in Raleigh against the Hurricanes, according to a tweet from the Washington Post.

If Grubauer is sent back to Hershey -- he could play in one of their two home games against Worcester Saturday and Sunday nights – it would leave the Caps with goaltenders Braden Holtby [13-10-1, 2.91, .917] and Michal Neuvirth [2-3-1, 2.83, .912] on their roster.

Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski, who missed the past two games with flu-like symptoms, is expected back in the lineup tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes, which would make Wellman eligible to return to Hershey.

 Those two moves would free up the roster space needed for Laich to return to the Caps.