Zach Sanford turned professional this summer, signing his entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals.
Almost three months later, he may crack their roster to open the regularseason, after leaving an impression on Barry Trotz and the rest of the Capitals coaching staff during training camp and the preseason.
On Sunday, Sanford had two shots on goal and three blocked shots, but he was also given added responsibility of playing on both the penalty kill and power play in the preseason finale against the New York Islanders.
He officially recorded 2:45 on the penalty kill, which saw Washington go a perfect five-for-five against the Islanders.
Washington selected Sanford in the second round, 61st overall, in 2013. He was a standout at Boston College, recording 39 points in 41 games in his sophomore year in 2015-16, before he opted to sign with the Capitals.
Now, the Capitals coaching staff has a decision to make. Do they keep the towering left winger on their NHL roster?
Trotz was complimentary of Sanford’s game, saying he could be a regular in the Capitals lineup if he stays with the big club.
“And that just puts a lot of heat on everyone else,” said Trotz, as per audio from the Capitals.
“He’s a little older. I think he’s older, wiser, all those things. He’s a hockey player. That’s the best way to describe him. He’s a hockey player. And I think the guys recognize that.”
The Capitals are expected to make their final roster decisions within the next day.