Tyler Graovac

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What does Tyler Graovac's injury mean for the Caps?

What does Tyler Graovac's injury mean for the Caps?

Tyler Graovac is week-to-week with an upper body that he suffered against Toronto on Tuesday night, Caps Coach Barry Trotz said.

Trotz was not more specific but it appeared as though the checking line forward was favoring his left shoulder. Graovac does not have a point in three games.

“Seven days, then asked me that question again,” said Trotz, pressed on how long he expects to be without Graovac.

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What does the loss of Graovac—for a while, anyway—mean for the Caps?

Well, it means Barry Trotz has fewer options to turn to as he searches for the right mix of forwards. He'll also be without one of his more versatile players; Graovac has played a couple of games at wing, though he replaced an ill Lars Eller at center against the Leafs.

The team does not, however, have to make a roster move to replace Graovac. Even with the 24-year-old out, the Caps have 13 forwards available for their trip to Detroit, where they face the Red Wings on Friday night.

Based on Thursday’s practice, it appears Alex Chiasson will draw back into the lineup and Nathan Walker will come out.

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A Caps team already without Eller and Niskanen loses Graovac in first period against Toronto

A Caps team already without Eller and Niskanen loses Graovac in first period against Toronto

The Capitals came into Tuesday's game a bit shorthanded with Lars Eller out due to an illness and Matt Niskanen on LTIR. They lost yet another player in the first period as Tyler Graovac out for the rest of the night due to an upper-body injury.

Graovac took two hits from Leafs forward Matt Martin that may have led to the injury. 

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Martin gave Graovac a two-handed shove in the back that knocked Graovac to the ice. You can see after the play Graovac doubles back to have a quick word with Martin after the hit.

Graovac took another hit from Martin on his next shift.

This time, Graovac appears to see Martin coming and leans into the check, but took the full brunt of the hit on his left shoulder. He can be seen favoring his left arm/shoulder later before exiting down the tunnel.

Graovac was in Tuesday's lineup centering the third line in place of the sick Eller.

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Caps' Tyler Graovac is the silver lining in an ugly loss to the Blues

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Caps' Tyler Graovac is the silver lining in an ugly loss to the Blues

Barry Trotz didn’t like a whole lot about Friday’s 4-0 preseason loss to the Blues.

One thing he didn’t mind so much, however, was the play of 6 foot 5 center Tyler Graovac.

The fourth liner had a handful of scoring chances and finished the game tied for the team lead in shots on goal with four. The 24-year-old also recorded a couple of hits, won nine of 11 draws and saw a prominent role penalty kill.  

“He’s had two pretty good games,” Trotz said of Graovac, who made his debut against the Devils earlier this week. “We’re getting to know him as a player and a person.”

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Graovac was acquired via trade from Minnesota in June so that Washington could protect Lars Eller in the expansion draft. Given that the Caps already had four NHL centers, it was believed that Graovac would eventually end up in AHL Hershey, despite a one-way contract that will pay him $650,000 this season.

That thinking, however, might need to change after his eye-opening performance against St. Louis.

“He’s competing,” Trotz said. “He’s a big man, he’s skating well, he’s creating some things. There’s a lot of good things that he’s done. His faceoffs have been good. We said there are opportunities and he’s trying to grab one.”

Although Graovac is a center by trade, the Brampton, Ontario native said he’d be comfortable skating on the wing if that’s what it takes to win a job.

“Last year in Minnesota, I played right wing, left wing. I really see myself as a forward,” he said. “I’m just trying to show all aspects of my game really. [Penalty kill]. My defensive side. Tonight, I tried to show a little more offense. Speed. I’m going to show them everything I’ve got to the best that I can.”

Graovac said he was playing softball when he found out that the Wild, which had selected him in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, had dealt him to the Caps for a fifth round pick. Once the shock wore off, he came to the realization that a change of scenery might turn out to be good for him. He had split the 2016-17 season between the Wild and the minors.

“It was bittersweet,” he said. “I was with Minnesota since I was 18, but I was thrilled that Washington wanted me. To go from a top-place team in the West to a top-place team in the East that’s closer to home…it was a great change for me.”

Graovac heard the reports that the Caps made the move with an eye on the expansion draft. It’s also likely he’s noticed that his name is often absent from media reports about the youngsters who are vying for jobs in Washington.

But he hasn’t allowed any of that to deter him.

“That’s the vision,” he said of claiming a spot on the 23-man opening night roster. “I try to tell myself that every morning. You put a picture on your wall and you go for it. I try not to look into too many things. Washington wanted me for a reason and I’m really trying to show, ‘Wow, we got this kid and he can do a couple of things here for us and actually make us better.’”

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