The goal for Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen was to return to his native Minnesota over the NHL’s Winter Olympic break and make sure the progress he has made recovering from a broken leg did not erode.
Apparently, Hillen accomplished that and more after he returned for five practices with Washington last week. On Tuesday, the Caps assigned Hillen to AHL Hershey, where he will be on a long-term injury/illness conditioning loan. The hope was that he would play in Tuesday’s game against Wilkes/Barre-Scranton and could be ready to return to the lineup as soon as Thursday when the Caps play against on the road at the Florida Panthers.
“Right before the break, [Hillen] was obviously skating with us every day, feeling good and just getting over the mental hurdle of skating vs. weight room strength,” Washington coach Adam Oates said. “He had two weeks with the break. He feels good. He’s been cleared, so we need to get him some action, so it makes sense to have him play [Tuesday].”
Hillen, 28, sustained a right tibial plateau fracture on Oct. 3 against Calgary and has missed the last 57 games. He began the year as a third-pair defenseman on the left side next to rookie Connor Carrick.
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