Capitals activate Alex Alexeyev as Oshie, Backstrom and Wilson progress

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Alex Alexeyev will make his season debut with the Capitals on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the defenseman confirmed. Washington has yet to make the formal transaction to activate him out of long-term injured reserve, which will require a corresponding move.

“Actually, I’m pretty excited,” Alexeyev said after morning practice. “It’s been quite a while since I’ve been here so it’s really exciting and I’m ready to go.”

Alexeyev, 22, also revealed details of his left shoulder injury which required labrum repair surgery. After returning home to St. Petersburg, Russia for the offseason, he played a 5-on-5 pickup game where an opponent knocked him off his skates and separated his shoulder. Alexeyev gone under the knife in June and said he felt 100% back before his return.

“You just have to play him,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of the decision to activate him. “He is, I think, someone who has been a bit harsh. He had to deal with this injury. He is back. He is in good health and has played a few games at Hershey. He’s back here with us now, so I wanted to get him out.

Despite only appearing in one NHL game, Alexeyev started the season on LTIR and is expected to be placed on waivers to be sent to the AHL. Injuries to defensemen John Carlson (lower body) and Dmitry Orlov (lower body), both of whom will not play against Pittsburgh, allowed the Capitals to insert Alexeyev directly into the lineup.

Washington also received more positive news on the injury front on Wednesday with winger TJ Oshie taking to the ice for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury in a game against the Nashville Predators. October 29. He still has no timetable for a return.

“He’s progressing,” Laviolette said. “His status still remains the same and it was good to see him there but obviously he hasn’t come all the way with our guys. But is progressing.

Laviolette too continued 106.7 Fan Sports Addicts and discussed the small steps winger Tom Wilson (torn ACL) and center Nicklas Backstrom (hip resurfacing) have taken toward their respective returns. He didn’t say which player was closest to returning, but he said he was “pattern skating” and “feeling his limits” on the ice.

The Capitals are still one of the most injured teams in the NHL. According to the Man Games Lost data tracking website, they entered in the week with 66 games against a man lost to injury this season. This ranked fourth in the league behind only the Montreal Canadiens (78), Toronto Maple Leafs (69) and Philadelphia Flyers (67).

Although Oshie, Backstrom and Wilson still have work to do before they’re ready to return, Alexeyev will be the first of what Washington hopes will see many players rehabilitate to return to the ice.

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