The NHL’s Olympic break goes into effect Sunday and runs through 2 p.m. on Feb. 19 and while the majority of the Capitals will either be competing in Sochi or relaxing on a beach somewhere, some are eligible to play in the American Hockey League during the hiatus.
There are a whole host of rules that determine which waiver-exempt players can play in the AHL during the break and who is entitled to time off based on the number of NHL games they’ve appeared in or days they’ve spent on the NHL roster this season.
The Capitals have five waiver-exempt players on the roster – Dmitry Orlov, Connor Carrick, Casey Wellman, Julien Brouillette and Patrick Wey. Of that group only Wellman, Brouillette and Wey are eligible to play in Hershey during the break.
Both Orlov and Carrick have appeared in at least 16 of the Capitals’ final 20 games before the break – Carrick hit the mark when he appeared in Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Jets — which means they have earned the time off according to the rules agreed to by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association. They will also both receive their NHL salary during the break.
>> There is an NHL trade freeze during the Olympic break that runs from 3 p.m. on Friday through 11:59 on Feb. 23, which is the day of the gold medal game in Sochi.
>> Players aren’t permitted to use team facilities during the Olympic break, which creates a bit of a conundrum for those who are working their way back from injury.
Jack Hillen, who has been sidelined since the second game of the season with a fractured tibial plateau, said he plans to spend the break in his home state of Minnesota where he already has ice set up so he can continue making progress toward a return. He’s skated consistently these last few weeks and taken part in all of the team’s practices leading up to the break.
“I’m going to make sure my body stays ready. I’ve done a lot of really good work in the last three weeks to get where I’m at now and I don’t want to lose that,” Hillen said Friday. “I actually think the break is awesome because in the regular season I would never have the opportunity to practice for a week with the team where you’re going to probably do some battle drills and do some high intensity training with the team. That’s going to help me determine if I’m ready or not.”