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Caps nearing decision on Roy, Stephenson, Peters

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Caps nearing decision on Roy, Stephenson, Peters

Quick hits from Capitals coach Barry Trotz following Saturday’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in preparation for Sunday’s preseason finale against the New York Islanders (5 p.m., CSN):

Orpik out: Trotz said defenseman Brooks Orpik (wrist) will not play against the Islanders. Orpik said he does not have full strength following July 28 surgery and is targeting the Caps’ season opener on Oct. 10.

Burakovsky at center:  Trotz said 20-year-old Andre Burakovsky needs a little work in the defensive zone, but plans on beginning the season with him as a center, presumably on the second line behind Evgeny Kuznetsov, who will fill in on the top line until Nicklas Backstrom returns from offseason hip surgery.

Look for Burakovsky to center a line with left wing Marcus Johansson and right wing Justin Williams on Sunday night and to be there when the season opens a week from tonight.

Stephenson to Hershey?: Trotz said his experiment of splitting time on the second line between 32-year-old veteran Derek Roy and 21-year-old Chandler Stephenson showed him what he already knew.

“In Derek’s case you tell the veteran savvy a little bit more,” Trotz said. “You can see Chandler is going to be just fine in the future. He’s done a tremendous job to this point and he’s a good prospect.

“I like Chandler a lot. He’s 21 and just scratching the surface of what he can do. He doesn’t need waivers, which is an easy decision if we want to send him down or bring him up. I see him playing NHL games for this year.”

Roy to stay?: If Burakovsky begins the season as the Caps’ second-line center and Jay Beagle is penciled in at third-line center, the Caps must decide whether they want to sign Roy as a fourth-line center, possibly between Brooks Laich and Michael Latta, and penalty killer.

Caps general manager Brian MacLellan has said he is interested to see which NHL players “shake loose” through NHL waivers when teams submit their rosters at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. If the Caps see a versatile forward they think can provide more than Roy while also fitting his salary under the cap, they may go that route.

Goalie battle: Despite some lackluster first periods, the Caps are 4-0-2 in the preseason and have gotten strong play from goaltenders Braden Holtby (2.29 GAA, 91.8 SP, 157 minutes), Justin Peters (2.22, 96.7, 84 minutes), Philipp Grubaer (2.22, 91.9, 81 minutes), and Dan Ellis (0.00, 100, 53 minutes).

Peters appears to be the odd-man out in the rotation and is expected to be sent to Hershey.

Trotz said there is “not much between” the preseason performances of Grubauer and Peters.

“They both have good numbers,” Trotz said. “Grubauer needs waivers. Petey needs waivers. There will be a decision made one way or the other.” 

[RELATED: Oshie, Kuznetsov lead Caps in shootout win over Bruins]

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: The Caps add two defensemen, problem solved?

The Capitals got their trade deadline started early by trading for defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek. Washington has been struggling of late, but do their new acquisitions address the team's weaknesses?

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir evaluate the two trades and talk about where they could fit into the lineup.

You can listen to the latest episode here on the Capitals Faceoff page or with the player below.

Want even more great Capitals coverage? Follow @TarikNBCS and @JJReganNBCS on Twitter!

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Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps make second blue line addition, acquire Jakub Jerabek from Montreal

The Capitals continued to retool their scuffling blue line on Wednesday, acquiring 26-year-old defenseman Jakub Jerabek from Montreal in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The move comes a couple of days after GM Brian MacLellan dealt a conditional third-round selection to Chicago for swift skating Michal Kempny.

Both Jerabek and Kempny are left shot, puck-moving defensemen who move well and make crisp outlet passes. Both also hail from the Czech Republic.

RELATED: BRADEN HOLTBY BLAMES HIMSELF FOR TAMPA LOSS

The team sees Jerabek as a No. 5 or 6, I’m told.

On Wednesday, the Caps also officially said goodbye to Taylor Chorney, who was claimed off waivers by Columbus. Chorney will report to the Blue Jackets.

The Caps were off on Wednesday as they made their way Florida for Thursday night’s meeting with the Panthers, so it’s unclear how Coach Barry Trotz intends to deploy his new defensemen.

But it’s probably safe to assume that Kempny will move into a spot within the top four with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

MORE CAPITALS: GET TO KNOW MICHAL KEMPNY

That figures to leave Brooks Orpik and Jerabek on the third pair, while rookies Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey jockey for position as the next man up.

Kempny is expected to make his Caps’ debut on Thursday night.

Is the Caps’ D corps better? Well, that remains to be seen. But it had become clear to MacLellan and Co. in recent weeks that the status quo was not going to cut it. This month, in fact, the team has allowed 39 goals in 10 games. Only the Rangers (40) have allowed more in the same span.

With the trade deadline looming next Monday, the Caps now have roughly $617,000 in cap space, according to www.capfriendly.com, and are at the roster maximum of 23 players. So they would need to make a move in order to add another body.