Coach Todd Reirden said Wednesday that the Washington Capitals will “continue to evaluate” defenseman Michal Kempny after he suffered what the team is calling an “upper-body” injury. Kempny is believed to have a concussion.
In the third period of Tuesday night’s preseason game in St. Louis, Kempny was clipped high by the elbow of Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. He was crunched against the glass before his head again made contact with the ice as he crumpled to the ground. Kempny stayed down, and trainer Jason Serbus tended to him on the ice. Kempny was able to skate off under his own power, and he was smiling with teammates as he made his way to the bench.
Bortuzzo will face a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Thursday for elbowing Kempny, opening up the possibility of supplementary discipline, the league announced.
Kempny was a key contributor to the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run, and the team re-signed him to a four-year, $10 million deal this offseason. Washington traded a third-round draft pick to Chicago for Kempny in February, and he scored two goals and added three assists in 24 postseason games while averaging 17:42 of ice time. Barring an extended absence, he is expected to continue playing on a top pairing with defenseman John Carlson.
Washington trimmed its training camp roster by eight players Wednesday, and just eight defensemen remain — the seven returning from last season and prospect Jonas Siegenthaler, a second-round draft pick in 2015 that the organization is high on. Players reassigned to the American Hockey League on Wednesday included defensemen Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs and Colby Williams and forwards Juuso Ikonen, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Garrett Pilon. Center Michael Sgarbossa and defenseman Tyler Lewington were placed on waivers, and should they clear, they will also be sent down to the Hershey Bears.
Siegenthaler stood out from the pack, and depending on the severity of Kempny’s concussion, there could be an opportunity for him to make the opening night roster, which has to be set by 5 p.m. on Oct. 2. In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday, General Manager Brian MacLellan said the team would be open to carrying eight defensemen to start the season.
“Is there a spot? I don’t know, but he’s making a statement here,” MacLellan said of Siegenthaler. “And whether it’s at the end of the year or we plan for him next year or right now, I don’t know, but he’s playing really well.”