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.
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
On the bubble
On the bubble
On the bubble