ARLINGTON, Va. — The unofficial start of the season is here as Capitals training camp began with media day on Friday.
This year's camp feels very different without head coach Barry Trotz who remains with Team Canada coaching in the World Cup of Hockey. Also absent are goalies Braden Holtby (Canada) and Philipp Grubauer (Europe), forwards Alex Ovechkin (Russia), Evgeny Kuznetsov (Russia), T.J. Oshie (USA) and Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden) and defensemen John Carlson (USA), Matt Niskanen (USA) and Dmitry Orlov (Russia).
All eyes at the start of camp were on defenseman Karl Alzner who underwent sports hernia surgery after the season. The defenseman took part in practice and seemed to skate well, but he did not take part in the conditioning skate test at the end of practice.
Check back for live updates throughout media day.
UPDATE 1:54 p.m.
The Caps have said they hope to keep a young prospect on the roster as a 14th forward this season. Could that player be Zach Sanford to start? He certainly hopes so and he is looking to make an impression early in camp.
UPDATE 1:58 p.m.
The odd feeling of training camp without the head coach and several key players has been an early theme of training camp.
"Obviously a little strange," veteran Justin Williams said. "I know we're going to get a few guys soon. I know they're probably not happy about having two training camps but it is what is. But obviously a little different, but being fresh and being new is something that's fun. Once it gets monotonous and you do stuff over and over again, it gets a little boring. So it's just something that we'll enjoy."
UPDATE 2:51 p.m.
Lars Eller seems to be adjusting well to his new team despite the bizarre circumstances of the World Cup. He also seems to be enjoying the fact that he has a clear, defined role with the Caps, something he did not have in Montreal.
"I have two all-star caliber centers in front of me, so they are gonna see a lot of ice time, as they should," Eller said. "I think my role is gonna be be a strong third line center and being able to play both ends of the ice but bring some offense to the third line. I think the best teams in the league, to compete for a Cup, you need good depth down the middle, you good need good depth down the lineup. You need to have three, maybe four lines scoring. The last many years playoffs, a lot of big goals are scored by not only the first two lines but also guys down the lineup. I think things like that’s going to be important going down the line.”
UPDATE 2:57 p.m.
Associate coach Todd Reirden who is running camp in Trotz's absence spoke to media after practice. He updated the status of the American player returning from the World Cup saying they would be on the ice by Monday. Trotz put together a plan for the returning players before leaving and Reirden is following that plan.
UPDATE 3:03 p.m.
When asked what young stood out in the early going, Reirden named Sanford specifically as someone who was taking advantage of the opportunity he was being given with fewer veteran players at camp. He also mentioned the absence of so many defensemen would leave opening for Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Jonas Seigenthaler to impress the coaches.
UDPATE 3:51 p.m.
Reirden spoke glowingly of defenseman Dmitry Orlov, saying he was very excited the team was able to re-sign him and that he had only begun "touching the surface" of his potential.