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Caps media day: Todd Reirden runs camp in Trotz's absence

Caps media day: Todd Reirden runs camp in Trotz's absence

ARLINGTON, Va. — The unofficial start of the season is here as Capitals training camp began with media day on Friday.

This year's camp feels very different without head coach Barry Trotz who remains with Team Canada coaching in the World Cup of Hockey. Also absent are goalies Braden Holtby (Canada) and Philipp Grubauer (Europe), forwards Alex Ovechkin (Russia), Evgeny Kuznetsov (Russia), T.J. Oshie (USA) and Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden) and defensemen John Carlson (USA), Matt Niskanen (USA) and Dmitry Orlov (Russia).

All eyes at the start of camp were on defenseman Karl Alzner who underwent sports hernia surgery after the season. The defenseman took part in practice and seemed to skate well, but he did not take part in the conditioning skate test at the end of practice.

Check back for live updates throughout media day.

UPDATE 1:54 p.m.

The Caps have said they hope to keep a young prospect on the roster as a 14th forward this season. Could that player be Zach Sanford to start? He certainly hopes so and he is looking to make an impression early in camp.

UPDATE 1:58 p.m.

The odd feeling of training camp without the head coach and several key players has been an early theme of training camp.

"Obviously a little strange," veteran Justin Williams said. "I know we're going to get a few guys soon. I know they're probably not happy about having two training camps but it is what is. But obviously a little different, but being fresh and being new is something that's fun. Once it gets monotonous and you do stuff over and over again, it gets a little boring. So it's just something that we'll enjoy."

UPDATE 2:51 p.m.

Lars Eller seems to be adjusting well to his new team despite the bizarre circumstances of the World Cup. He also seems to be enjoying the fact that he has a clear, defined role with the Caps, something he did not have in Montreal.

"I have two all-star caliber centers in front of me, so they are gonna see a lot of ice time, as they should," Eller said. "I think my role is gonna be be a strong third line center and being able to play both ends of the ice but bring some offense to the third line. I think the best teams in the league, to compete for a Cup, you need good depth down the middle, you good need good depth down the lineup. You need to have three, maybe four lines scoring. The last many years playoffs, a lot of big goals are scored by not only the first two lines but also guys down the lineup. I think things like that’s going to be important going down the line.”

UPDATE 2:57 p.m.

Associate coach Todd Reirden who is running camp in Trotz's absence spoke to media after practice. He updated the status of the American player returning from the World Cup saying they would be on the ice by Monday. Trotz put together a plan for the returning players before leaving and Reirden is following that plan.

UPDATE 3:03 p.m.

When asked what young stood out in the early going, Reirden named Sanford specifically as someone who was taking advantage of the opportunity he was being given with fewer veteran players at camp. He also mentioned the absence of so many defensemen would leave opening for Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Jonas Seigenthaler to impress the coaches.

UDPATE 3:51 p.m.

Reirden spoke glowingly of defenseman Dmitry Orlov, saying he was very excited the team was able to re-sign him and that he had only begun "touching the surface" of his potential.

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up in the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY