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What Wednesday's lineup could mean for the Caps' opening night roster

What Wednesday's lineup could mean for the Caps' opening night roster

Tonight’s preseason lineup against the Devils figures to be close—really close, in fact—to the one we’ll see on opening night.

Here’s how Coach Barry Trotz will have them lined up at Capital One Arena:

Forwards
Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Connolly
Burakovsky-Backstrom-Oshie
Vrana-Eller-Boyd
Graovac-Beagle-Peluso

Defense
Orlov-Niskanen
Ness-Carlson
Orpik-Bowey

Goalies
Holtby
Grubauer

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Here’s what that lineup tells us:

  • The top two forward lines are probably the combos Trotz is looking at for opening night, given what he's said in recent days.
     
  • The third line is almost there, I’d suspect, with prospect Travis Boyd filling in for Tom Wilson, who is sitting out the first game of a two-game suspension.
     
  • The fourth line is where the real competition is taking place. Jay Beagle is a lock, obviously. The wingers battling for that spot are likely (in no particular order) Nathan Walker, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Graovac, Anthony Peluso and Devante Smith-Pelly. Does that mean the coaches have seen enough from Walker, Chiasson and DSP? And need to see a little more of Graovac and Peluso? Makes sense to me.
     
  • Trotz on the competition: “We’re getting down to sort of the short strokes in terms of the end here. It could be the last audition for some guys. We’ll what they can bring to the table.”
     
  • Trotz also said it’s possible to keep 23 players—the roster max—but that’s only for certain combinations of players. “It would be really tight,” he joked. “We would have to hold our breath all the time.”
     
  • Personally, Trotz said he prefers a 22-man roster, which allows for just one extra forward and one extra D. “When you have two extra forwards, if you’re that second guy, you’re going, ‘Okay, two guys got to get hurt or two guys have to play bad before I get in’,” he said. “With that one guy, it keeps him, ‘I’m right there. I’m waiting for something to happen.’”
     
  • Trotz also said the team's early roster decisions could be dictated by the cap. “If there’s not much between a certain player and another player, the cap may decide that,” he said.
     
  • The D pairs are probably what Trotz is looking at for opening night. Note that it’s three lefties and three righties—something Trotz says he considers to be more important these days because of the game’s increased pace.
     
  • Wilson (suspended), Chorney, Walker, Chiasson, Smith-Pelly, Djoos, Lewington, Stephenson, Siegenthaler and Copley were in the non-game group. 

 

MORE CAPITALS: BROOKS LAICH VS. NATE SCHMIDT

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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.

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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.