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Pro scouts deserve credit for finding Caps' depth


Pro scouts deserve credit for finding Caps' depth

Two years ago, the lack of depth in the Capitals’ organization was painfully evident when players like defensemen Julien Brouillette, Tyson Strachan, Connor Carrick and Alexander Urbom, and forwards Nicolas Deschamps, Peter LeBlanc, Ryan Stoa and Casey Wellman took turns making their Capitals debuts.

That team failed to sustain any kind of momentum during the season and failed to make the playoffs.

Two years later, the Capitals are humming along with the best record in the NHL despite the losses of top-pair defensemen John Carlson and Brooks Orpik and checking-line center Jay Beagle.

A big reason has been the offseason acquisitions of free-agent defensemen Taylor Chorney and Aaron Ness and free-agent center Zach Sill, three players who barely caused a ripple in the free-agent pool.    

“We’re thriving through adversity,” Capitals coach Barry Trtoz said. “Obviously, the people that are coming in are doing an excellent job. Guys that have been asked to step up have done an excellent job. I’d like to say it’s cultural.

“It really comes from leadership,” Trotz continued. “The leadership doesn’t allow excuses in the room. That, to me, is the biggest thing.

“It’s like, ‘OK, Nesser, you’re playing with Chorns tonight. Let’s go.’ Burt, (Andre Burakovsky) you’re going from the fourth line to playing with Kuzy (Evgeny Kuznetsov). Have at it.”

RELATED: Brooks Orpik sighting at Kettler Capitals Iceplex

But there is something more to the Caps having a 22-3-4 record without Orpik and a 6-1-1 record without Carlson heading into Thursday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks (6:30, CSN).

It is their ability to identify “cusp” players who have enough pro experience to fill the gaps. Chorney, 28, has played in more than 500 games as a pro. Sill, 27, has played in more than 350 professional games, and Ness, 25, has played in more than 300 games as a pro.

 “When you’re younger there’s a certain level of anxiety or nervousness about it,” said Sill, who played 63 games last season for the Penguins and Maple Leafs. “But having played up (in the NHL) all last year, that’s just not there anymore. There’s not that nervousness and I think that’s the case with Chorns and Nesser, too.”

In 33 games with the Caps, Chorney has four assists, is a plus-12 and has 13 penalty minutes while averaging 13:11 of ice time. In five games with the Caps, Sill has one goal, is a plus-1 and has no penalty minutes while averaging just under 10 minutes a game. And in five games with the Caps Ness has two assists, is a plus-2 and has no penalty minutes while averaging 12:12 of ice time

“You try to identify guys who are in good places in their careers,” Trotz said. “Chorney is a good example. He’s not 22, he’s 28. He’s paid his dues and he’s capable. Our pro scouts have done a good job of identifying types of needs -- like Zach Sill, Chorney, Ness -- so we can fill certain spots in our organization.”

Injury update: Trotz said Orpik, sidelined since Nov. 10, began skating on his own earlier this week, presumably Monday, but would not put a timetable on when he will practice with the Caps. “No time frame,” Trotz said. “It'll be the same answer until he starts practicing with us.” … Tom Wilson (lower body) practiced on a third line with center Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera. The Caps’ fourth line had Sill between left wing Brooks Laich and right wing Michael Latta, which means Mike Richards and Stan Galiev will be extras.

MORE CAPITALS: Johansson set to return after two-game suspension

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

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


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


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

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


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.

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Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”