General Manager George McPhee said Friday that there’s still no set timetable for Brooks Laich, who is recovering from a groin injury, to return to the Capitals‘ lineup.
Laich, 29, has been skating regularly and recently began taking part in practice with his teammates but Coach Adam Oates and McPhee have stressed patience with the utility forward’s rehabilitation. The Capitals don’t want to see him jump in the lineup too quickly and risk a setback.
“Just hoping he can get in the lineup soon. It’d be nice to have him,” McPhee said. “Everybody has their injuries but we started with two guys out in Laich and Orlov before we even got going. Certainly Brooks would be a big help right now, but we’ll have to wait a little bit longer. He’s improving and hopefully we’ll see him soon.”
Defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who suffered an upper-body injury on Dec. 6, will continue to work on his recovery with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. The 21-year-old has started skating again but don’t expect to see him back in Arlington just yet, McPhee said.
“He’s coming along,” McPhee said of Orlov. “I was told a week ago it might be another month.”
As for Jack Hillen, McPhee said it’s going to be quite some time before the blue-liner is able to return from the upper-body injury he sustained after being checked into the boards by Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier in the season opener.
“That one’s going to be longer. That’s still another probably 6-8 weeks. That’s a significant injury,” McPhee said, adding that the Capitals don’t need to move Hillen to the long-term injured-reserve list because the team has plenty of room under the salary cap.
“We don’t need the cap space,” he said. “We’re at, I think, $62 [million] and you can go to $70 [million] this year.”
According to Capgeek, the Capitals have more than $6.3 million in space under the $70.2 million salary cap.