Tom Poti’s conditioning assignment with the Hershey Bears lasted only two games and now the defenseman is back with the Washington Capitals. And with less than two days until they start the regular season at the Tampa Bay Lightning, the possibility exists that the 35-year-old will be in the lineup.
“He might be able to play,” general manager George McPhee said Thursday night.
Poti’s last NHL game came Jan. 12, 2011. But now he’s feeling good after the groin injury and fractured pelvis. He’s “real confident” in the ability to play Saturday.
“When I came up here, they just said, ‘Well take it day-to-day and kind of see how it goes,’ and we’ll make that decision on either Saturday morning or Friday after practice,” Poti said. “It will mean a lot. I never knew if I was going to make it back to this point, so it’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, so to say, over the past couple years trying to get back and figure out this injury. I’ll always be grateful if I can make it back.”’
The Caps already had seven healthy defensemen in camp. Poti’s return from Hershey could force a roster move. Or they could just go with the 23 players, with Brooks Laich (groin) on injured reserve or the non-hockey injury list.
“So we’re juggling a little bit right now,” McPhee said. “We’ll have to do something by [the Friday 3 p.m. roster deadline]. I think we’re OK, but it goes different ways, so we’ll see.”
For what it’s worth, Poti was paired with John Erskine during Saturday night’s practice at Verizon Center. Jack Hillen was paired with Jeff Schultz.