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MacLellan may not be done tinkering with Caps

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MacLellan may not be done tinkering with Caps

With 18-year-old defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler being returned to his team in Zurich, Switzerland on Friday, the Capitals’ training camp roster is down to 43 players – 24 forwards, 14 defensemen and five goaltenders (roster below).

By Oct. 6, the day before the NHL raises its curtain on the 2015-16 regular season, the Caps will need to submit their opening night roster, which coach Barry Trotz says will consist of 22 players, one under the league limit.

But despite the competition between centers Derek Roy, Chandler Stephenson and Michael Latta  for the role of fourth-line center, and the battle between Ryan Stanton, Taylor Chorney and Connor Carrick for the seventh defense spot, there could be someone who makes the Caps’ opening night roster who is not even attending the club’s training camp.

When he spoke to reporters last week, Caps GM Brian MacLellan acknowledged that there will be players who become available just before teams need to submit their rosters on Oct. 6 and he’ll be active in making and taking phone calls.

“I don’t think you’re really ever done,” MacLellan said. “I mean, you’re always looking for ways to upgrade. We’ll see how it goes here in camp and usually at the end of camp you start talking to managers about possible holes and possible guys they’re trying to move. Then we’ll take a look to see who’s available and make decisions based on that. If we think they’re better than our guys we’ll make another move.”

Where might the Capitals look to improve? They appear to be set at right wing with T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams and Tom Wilson, with Stan Galiev and Michael Latta possible options for the fourth line. They also look fine at left wing with Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson, Jason Chimera and either Brooks Laich or Andre Burakovsky, although if Burakovsky plays left wing Laich could become one of those “available” players on the Caps’ roster.

RELATED: Oshie flashes offensive brilliance in Caps win

Down the middle remains a question mark for the Caps. Assuming Nicklas Backstrom recovers nicely from offseason hip surgery, he’ll return to top-line duty, ahead of Evgeny Kuznetsov. The third- and fourth-line center positions would then be up for grabs between Burakovsky, Jay Beagle, Latta and Roy.     

Unless, of course, MacLellan has other ideas. The second-year GM said “you can kind of project” which players on other teams might be available at the end of training camp and he’ll keep a close eye on those players.

“You can look at teams’ lineups and where they might have depth and who might squeak loose,” MacLellan said. “You try and project that as you start the season.”

Caps current roster

FORWARDS (24)

Nicklas Backstrom

Jay Beagle

Jason Chimera

Marcus Johansson

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Andre Burakovsky

Brooks Laich

Michael Latta

T.J. Oshie

Alex Ovechkin

Justin Williams

Tom Wilson

On the bubble

Derek Roy

Chandler Stephenson

Stan Galiev

Riley Barber

Chris Bourque

Chris Brown

Jakub Vrana

Carter Camper

Paul Carey

Sean Collins

Liam O’Brien

Zach Sill

DEFENSEMEN (14)

John Carlson

Brooks Orpik

Matt Niskanen

Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov

Nate Schmidt

On the bubble

Taylor Chorney

Ryan Stanton

Connor Carrick

Madison Bowey

Chris Djoos

Tyler Lewington

Mike Moore

Aaron Ness

GOALTENDERS (5)

Braden Holtby

On the bubble

Philipp Grubauer

Justin Peters

Dan Ellis

Vitek Vanecek

MORE CAPITALS: Capitals pregame notebook: Siegenthaler gets his first NHL look

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

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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 on the air.

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

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Michal Kempney, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.