Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson rejoined his teammates at practice Wednesday afternoon for the first time since he suffered a concussion last week against the Vegas Golden Knights. Wilson has missed the past three games, but practicing and taking contact on Wednesday is a sign he could return to the lineup for the Capitals' next game, at the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
“Yeah, I think that’s a possibility,” Coach Todd Reirden said. “We have to wait and see how he reacted to some contact and everything today, just see how his conditioning is moving into this weekend.”
Wilson’s return would give Washington something it’s had for just one game this season: a fully available forward corps. Between Wilson’s suspension for the first 16 games of the season and an array of injuries, the Capitals have been consistently shorthanded, especially in the top-six ranks. Top-two right wings Wilson and T.J. Oshie have been in the same lineup in just two games, and those were a month ago against the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets.
Before Wilson had gotten hurt, he’d returned from his NHL Department of Player Safety suspension with a vengeance, scoring eight goals with six assists in 11 games while averaging more than 20 minutes of ice time per game. As soon as he’s cleared, he’s expected to play alongside center Evgeny Kuznetsov and left wing Jakub Vrana. Oshie, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing 11 games with a concussion, will continue to skate with center Nicklas Backstrom and captain Alex Ovechkin.
“Timing is never good for those things, but especially when the team is playing well and you’re feeling good out there, it sucks,” Wilson said. "But it’s hockey. Injuries happen.”
Wilson said there “is no point” in him sharing his opinion of the hit by Ryan Reaves that injured him, a shot for which the Vegas forward received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for interference. Wilson’s helmet popped off on the blind-side hit, and his bare head hit the ice as he fell.
Asked about Reaves autographing photos of Wilson injured on the ice in the aftermath of the hit, Wilson said, “Yeah, obviously, I heard about it.
“He can do whatever he wants. It’s up to him. He controls that stuff. Everyone carries themselves differently, so it’s up to him. There’s no point in me paying attention to that kind of stuff. I saw it, but it is what it is.”
Though Wilson was back, the Capitals were without defenseman Christian Djoos at Wednesday’s practice because of an undisclosed “lower-body” injury that’s considered day-to-day. His status for Friday’s game is questionable, and if he doesn’t play, then rookie Jonas Siegenthaler will take his place on the third pairing beside Madison Bowey.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik remains on long-term injured reserve after he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee three weeks ago. Orpik has missed the past 20 games, but he skated for a first time since that procedure on Wednesday, indicating he could return on the early end of the original four- to six-week timeline after the surgery.
“It’s tough to completely say on that, but the fact that he was on the ice today was encouraging,” Reirden said. “The fact that he’s out there, that’s great news for us. I guess you could make that deduction, but it’s just waiting and seeing how he does and how the injury reacts and stuff like that. It’s still a little bit of a ways away from making a time estimation."
Read more on the Capitals: