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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 23 Riley Barber

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USA TODAY Sports

The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 23 Riley Barber

Every player on an NHL team plays a role. Some roles are bigger than others.

The Caps will look to their prospects to take carry a bigger load than in recent years while there while the team’ leaders and superstars will continue being tasked with leading the way.

Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan are counting down who the 25 most important players for the Caps will be in the 2017-18 season.

RELATED: CAPITALS 2017-18 SEASON PREVIEW SERIES

Today’s player: No. 23 Riley Barber

When it became clear the Capitals would have spots open on the fourth line, Riley Barber was on the short list of players who seemed destined for an NHL role next season.

As a sixth-round draft pick, not much was expected of him at the NHL level. With an impressive career at Miami University of Ohio, however, he showed he had much greater potential than originally thought. In his final college season, Barber scored 40 points in 38 games. That potential did not go unnoticed by USA Hockey. While in college, Barber played in the World Juniors and even served as the captain for Team USA in 2014.

Barber has remained productive at the AHL level scoring 55 points in his first professional season. A hand injury shortened his second season to only 39 games, but he did manage to make his NHL debut with three games for the Capitals last season.

The Pittsburgh native has managed to find production at every level of the game and his two-way style of play will serve him well when vying for a spot on the fourth line.

Barber is an overachiever in every sense of the word. The 167th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, he has exceeded expectations every step of the way. In three years at Miami (Ohio), he was consistently one of the better scorers in college hockey and impressed on the international stage with Team USA. 

At 6-0 and 193 pounds,  Barber does not have outstanding physical gifts. But what he does have is determinationa nd moxie, enough of it to make up for his lack of physical stature.  He found a way to score at every level and plays a strong two-way game. Barber also has the makings of a future leader, something that measurements and statistics can't quantify.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out past player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson

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Evgeni Malkin jokes about Alex Ovechkin's friendship with Putin

Evgeni Malkin jokes about Alex Ovechkin's friendship with Putin

The NHL has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to the Olympics. It's not going to pause the regular season for the 2018 Olympics or allow its players to go. For many players, that's the end of the discussion, but many are watching to see if any superstars decide to call the league's bluff.

One superstar, Alex Ovechkin, has been adamant that he intends to play in the Olympics regardless of the NHL's stance. His tone seems to have softened of late, but Ovechkin is essentially the face of Russian hockey. If anyone is going to leave to play in Pyeongchang, Ovechkin seems the most likely leader of the pack.

RELATED: With short-term future secure, Caps' Grubauer eager to get to work

Would any of his fellow Russian countrymen follow? Well, you can count out Evgeni Malkin.

When asked about whether he would consider playing in the Olympics, Malkin made a quick joke about the Capitals captain and his budding friendship with Vladimir Putin.

Putin has honored the Russian superstar in the past and the two often can be seen together in the offseason (such as here and here). In an Olympic tournament that will be devoid of NHL players, Team Russia looks like the clear favorite to win thanks to the Russian players in the KHL. Adding Ovechkin to that roster would be icing on the cake or whatever the Russian equivalent is (sour cream to the borscht?).

Then again, if Malkin was interested in playing, I'm sure Putin wouldn't be opposed.

MORE CAPITALS: 25 most important Caps: No. 24 Chandler Stephenson

Check out the latest episode of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast!

Like what you hear? Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play and give us a good review!

For the latest Caps coverage be sure to follow @CSNCapitals@TarikCSN@JillCSN and @JJReganCSN on Twitter.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Voice of the Capitals

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Voice of the Capitals

Miss hearing the silky smooth sound of John Walton on the radio? Well, have we got a treat for you!

Voice of the Capitals, John Walton joined this week's podcast to show JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir how this whole audio thing is done. They discuss the team's offseason moves and what prospects they are most excited to see compete in camp.

RELATED: With short term future secure, Caps' Grubauer eager to get to work

Like what you hear? Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcastsAudioboom and Google Play and give us a good review!

For the latest Caps coverage be sure to follow @CSNCapitals@TarikCSN@JillCSN and @JJReganCSN on Twitter.