Capitals option Aliaksei Protas, waive Joe Snively to open roster spots

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Capitals option Protas, waive Snively to open roster spots originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Capitals opened a pair of roster spots Saturday, loaning Aliaksei Protas to their AHL affiliate Hershey Bears and placing Joe Snively on waivers in a series of moves that cleared the way for Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson to make their respective returns from injury.

With Backstrom and Wilson set to make their season debuts Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Capitals faced a roster crunch that forced them to risk losing at least one player to another team. That player proved to be Snively, the homegrown product who has spent most of the season as a healthy scratch in Washington.

Snively, 27, broke camp with the Capitals in September but has appeared in just six games including only one over their last 24 contests. He carries 18 games of NHL experience, scoring four goals with four assists across two seasons in Washington. If Snively is claimed, he’ll get an opportunity to stick on another NHL roster.

Should he make it through the 24-hour waiver period without being picked up, Snively would join Protas in Hershey. Protas, 22, had carved out a role on the Capitals’ fourth line in his first NHL season but was the only waiver-exempt player on their 23-man roster. The 22-year-old will get the chance to play top-six minutes in Hershey and further his development.

The Capitals made the formal announcements earlier Saturday that both Backstrom and Wilson would be activated for Sunday's game. Washington also announced that defenseman John Carlson was placed on Long-Term Injured Reserve, clearing the cap space needed to add Backstrom.