Panik, who signed a four-year $11-million deal this offseason, suffered an upper body injury after colliding with defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler on Oct. 16. The injury did not require surgery, and he was placed on long-term injured reserve two days later, which meant he had to miss at least 10 games. Panik said he lost his balance as he was trying to poke the puck and Siegenthaler was doing the same, so neither saw each other as they collided.
Panik said his shoulder hurt right away after the collision, but he decided to finish the shift before getting it examined. He said he had a past issue with his shoulder, but that the collision triggered a different injury. After a successful rehab, he will skate against his former team Monday on the third line with Lars Eller and Chandler Stephenson. Carl Hagelin (upper body) remains day-to-day.
“Yeah I’m really excited,” Panik said. “You know, it’s been a long road, but finally I am 100-percent and just excited to jump on the running train.”
Pank, who has not recorded a point through his first eight games with the Capitals, said he is still getting adjusted to the Capitals’ system.
“I think it is a good opportunity for me to start over,” Panik said
In corresponding moves to make space for Panik’s $2.75 million salary, the team put Tyler Lewington on waivers Sunday and reassigned Travis Boyd to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pa. Boyd did not have to go through waivers because he played in just six games and was called up less than 30 days ago. Boyd, who originally got called up when Panik was placed on LTI, tallied four assists while playing on the team’s fourth line.
Sending down both Lewington and Boyd means the Capitals now have just six defensemen on the roster: Siegenthaler, John Carlson, Michal Kempny, Dmitry Orlov, Nick Jensen and Radko Gudas. Reirden said there are risks with such as an arrangement, but the Capitals’ tight salary cap necessitated the moves. Lewington carries a $675,000 salary cap hit, while Boyd has a $800,000 cap hit.
“Sometimes it is the situation you have to deal with, and that is what we have in front of us right now and, you know, time to focus on the team that is in front of me and make sure we have the proper players here and whoever is here, making sure I slot the players properly and, you know, for tonight’s game we’re going with six D,” Reirden said.