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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 23 Riley Barber

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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 23 Riley Barber

Every player on an NHL team plays a role. Some play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.

RELATED: CAPITALS 2017-18 SEASON PREVIEW SERIES

Today’s player: No. 23 Riley Barber

When it became clear the Capitals would have spots open on the fourth line, Riley Barber was on the short list of players who seemed destined for an NHL role next season.

As a sixth-round draft pick, not much was expected of him at the NHL level. With an impressive career at Miami University of Ohio, however, he showed he had much greater potential than originally thought. In his final college season, Barber scored 40 points in 38 games. That potential did not go unnoticed by USA Hockey. While in college, Barber played in the World Juniors and even served as the captain for Team USA in 2014.

Barber has remained productive at the AHL level scoring 55 points in his first professional season. A hand injury shortened his second season to only 39 games, but he did manage to make his NHL debut with three games for the Capitals last season.

The Pittsburgh native has managed to find production at every level of the game and his two-way style of play will serve him well when vying for a spot on the fourth line.

Barber is an overachiever in every sense of the word. The 167th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, he has exceeded expectations every step of the way. In three years at Miami (Ohio), he was consistently one of the better scorers in college hockey and impressed on the international stage with Team USA. 

At 6-0 and 193 pounds,  Barber does not have outstanding physical gifts. But what he does have is determinationa nd moxie, enough of it to make up for his lack of physical stature.  He found a way to score at every level and plays a strong two-way game. Barber also has the makings of a future leader, something that measurements and statistics can't quantify.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out past player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson

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Barry Trotz thinks Alex Ovechkin will be fine after injury scare at practice

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Barry Trotz thinks Alex Ovechkin will be fine after injury scare at practice

Alex Ovechkin limped to the locker room late in Monday’ practice and did not return, but Coach Barry Trotz said he thinks the Caps’ captain is going to be okay.

Ovechkin, who is tied for the league lead in goals with 10, was participating in a spirited 2-on-2 battle drill when he got “tangled up” with a teammate and went down.

“I think he’s going to be okay,” Trotz said. “I got to talk to the trainers here. He got tangled up there; it’s a contact sport.”

RELATED: UPPER-BODY INJURY KEEPS BURAKOVSKY OUT OF PRACTICE MONDAY

After slowly getting up to his skates, Ovechkin gingerly skated his way to the bench at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with the assistance of head athletic trainer Jason Serbus.

Serbus examined Ovechkin on the bench before No. 8 limped to the locker room.

Ovechkin did not return to ice and was not available to reporters immediately afterward.

“I think he’s going to be okay,” Trotz said. “I’ll have a better idea a little bit later today or tomorrow. He just got tangled up.”

MORE CAPITALS: CAPS TUMBLE DOWN POWER RANKINGS AFTER ROUGH WEEK

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Upper-body injury keeps Andre Burakovsky out of practice

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Upper-body injury keeps Andre Burakovsky out of practice

Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky did not practice on Monday morning due to an upper-body injury, the team announced.

Although the Caps did not specify the location or the nature of the injury, replays showed Burakovsky remove his left glove and flex his hand after drawing a hooking foul with about two minutes remaining in Washington’s 4-1 loss to Florida. He was also examined by team doctors after the game.

RELATED: CAPS TUMBLE IN LATEST POWER RANKINGS

Burakovsky has a goal and three assists in nine games this season.

With Burakovsky sidelined on Monday, Coach Barry Trotz shuffled his forward lines, promoting Alex Chiasson to the second combo with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov while dropping Jakub Vrana to the third line with Brett Connolly and Lars Eller. Burakovsky’s injury also drew Nathan Walker back into the regular rotation; he was on the left side of the fourth line.  

The Caps do not play again until Thursday in Vancouver so they’ve got time to evaluate Burakovsky’s progress and weigh their options if he is unable to suit up.

Burakovsky missed 15 games with a broken right hand last season.

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