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It's official: Which players did the Caps leave unprotected?

It's official: Which players did the Caps leave unprotected?

The NHL announced Sunday the players that each of the league's 30 existing teams has protected in the expansion draft and which players each team has made available to the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

The Capitals elected to the use seven forward, three defenseman and one goaltender option. On their protection list, which was submitted to the league Saturday, Washington included forwards Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson as well as defensemen John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Braden Holtby. No surprises there; those are the 11 players that made the most sense to shield, and the list was confirmed late Saturday by The Washington Post.

The Caps also exposed 27 players organization-wide. Among the notable players left unprotected were Nate Schmidt, Philipp Grubauer, Jay Beagle, Brett Connolly, Tyler Graovac, Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney and all five unrestricted free agents, an impressive group that features T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Williams, Karl Alzner and Daniel Winnik.

RELATED: Ovechkin meets soccer great Pele

Here is Washington’s available list in its entirety (via NHL.com):

Beagle, F
Chris Bourque, F
Paul Carey, F
Connolly, F
Stanislav Galiev, F
Graovac, F
Garrett Mitchell, F
Liam O'Brien, F
Oshie, F
Zach Sill, F
Chandler Stephenson, F
Christian Thomas, F
Nathan Walker, F
J. Williams, F
Winnik, F
Alzner, D
Chorney, D
Cody Corbett, D
Darren Dietz, D
Christian Djoos, D
Tom Gilbert, D
Aaron Ness, D
Orpik, D
Schmidt, D
Shattenkirk, D
Pheonix Copley, G
Grubauer, G

The Golden Knights must select one player from each presently existing team. Those selections will be announced Wednesday night during the NHL Awards show in Last Vegas.

Vegas GM George McPhee can also now begin contacting free agents such as Oshie, Shattenkirk, Alzner and others who were left unprotected by their teams. If one of those players ends up signing with the Golden Knights, he'll count as Vegas’ selection from that team.

Vegas is also permitted to complete trades in the coming days and will “give all 30 clubs every opportunity to keep their rosters intact if they’d like.”

For the right price, that is.

“This means that before the Golden Knights claim a player off a team's unprotected list,” Vegas said via a statement issued Saturday, “McPhee and his staff are willing to negotiate deals so the other clubs do not lose a player they would otherwise like to keep.”

Indeed, the next few days could get even more interesting around the NHL.

MORE CAPITALS: 20 questions: Who should be the No. 1 center?

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Caps work on team building by fighting each other in FBI training

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Caps work on team building by fighting each other in FBI training

How much better would your work environment be if you had a chance to pin a coworker or get them in a chokehold? Probably a lot. That's what the Caps are banking on.

The team visited the FBI Academy on Wednesday in a team building exercise that included raming doors and, of course, hand to hand combat.

Let's break down some of these wrestling matchups.

Braden Holtby appears to be thanking John Carlson for playing 27:33 on Tuesday.

It seems dangerous to pit a goalie against a defenseman. Carlson spends all of his time on the ice trying to protect Holtby. Just how hard was Carlson really trying to take down Holtby?

It's no surprise seeing Tom Wilson enjoying himself with the hand to hand combat. Whoever went up against him (it looks like Jay Beagle) certainly drew the short straw.

And then there's this.

Nicklas Backstrom is having way, way too much fun. Maybe Andre Burakovsky was getting a bit chesty in the locker room after his first NHL fight. Well, it seems Backstrom certainly put him in his place.

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There are no moral victories, but Caps see a defensive effort they can build on in Tuesday's loss

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USA TODAY Sports

There are no moral victories, but Caps see a defensive effort they can build on in Tuesday's loss

The Capitals probably deserved a better result on Tuesday than a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Coming into that game, the Leafs were averaging 5.20 goals per game and had scored no fewer than three in any of their five games to start the season. Yet, a Capitals team fresh off an 8-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers managed to hold Toronto’s offense to only one goal, the second coming only after Braden Holtby had been pulled for the extra attacker.

“There's a lot of improvements from our game in Philadelphia, that's for sure,” Barry Trotz said following the game.

Aside from a flurry of chances from Toronto early in the first, the game was largely even between the two sides until Connor Brown put the Leafs up 1-0 in the third period.

RELATED: EVGENY KUZNETSOV COULD HAVE CHANGED TUESDAY'S GAME, HERE'S HOW

Despite their effort, however, do not take this game as proof that Washington has solved all of its blue line issues. Tuesday was just merely a step in the right direction.

“We did some things better [Tuesday],” Braden Holtby said. “The outcome could have been a little worse if luck wasn't on our side today on a few plays. We've got to keep a realistic mindset on that too.  But we did a lot of good things [Tuesday]. Our defense did a really good job at handling their speed and their size.”

Surprisingly, it was not the defense that cost Washington the game, but the offense. When the Caps needed a goal, they simply could not generate one against goalie Frederik Andersen.

Yes, the team needs to find more of a balance and get a full 60-minute effort on both ends of the ice, but there was also hope in the locker room on Tuesday that if they continue to improve in their own zone, it will ultimately lead to more offense in the other end.

“Everything is developed from the defensive zone,” Holtby said. “That's the way we've always had success scoring goals. If you're taking risks offensively, that's not a consistent way to play. You might win some games, but you're not going to win games consistently. That's what our foundation of our team is built around, our breakout, especially on our goal line and that what creates a lot of our offense.”

MORE CAPITALS: WHO STOOD OUT IN TUESDAY'S DEFENSIVE BATTLE?

What the first seven games of the season has shown is that the Capitals’ fate rests on its blue line. Yes, they need more depth scoring from their third and fourth line, but this team’s weakness is its defense. How they respond to their early struggles will determine the fate of the season.

“We'd be kidding ourselves if we're not going to have some growing pains along the way,” Holtby said of the team. “It's just how we handle them and what we do with them. How do we fight through them and get better?”

Tuesday’s game may have ended in a loss, but it was an effort the defense can build around. That is the silver lining. If they do build on this game, the Capitals still have a playoff caliber roster. If they do not, well, there is no telling how far Washington can sink.