Evaluating first week of Caps' training camp

Evaluating first week of Caps' training camp
September 18, 2013, 5:15 pm
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Crab thrown onto ice at Capitals game in Baltimore

Since today is one of the Caps’ scheduled days off – one of the perks of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement – it seems like the perfect chance make some of our own evaluations one week into training camp.

Feel free to chime in below:

Is Tom Wilson making this team?

If Adam Oates has any say, yes. Oates pulled his own power play Tuesday night when he said the Caps “need” Wilson in their lineup, especially after seeing him throw his 6-foot-4, 210-pound body around against the Boston Bruins in a 3-2 preseason loss.

Wilson brings the snarl the Caps lost when Matt Hendricks signed with Nashville over the summer and it looks as though Oates is content to start him out on a fourth line, with the potential of sliding him up if right wings Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer or Joel Ward get injured.

[When I suggested to Oates he could make room for Wilson by moving Ovechkin back to left wing, he quipped, “I’m not even going there. Not happening.”]

If Wilson stays, who goes?

That’s the $628,462 question. With $665,705 in cap space, the Caps would need to clear an additional $628,462 to fit Wilson’s $1.3 million rookie salary.

The only viable options at forward would be to trade or place on waivers Jason Chimera [1 year, $1.75 million], Mathieu Perreault [1 year, $1.05 million] or Jay Beagle [2 years, $900,000 per].

Left wing Aaron Volpatti [2 years, $575,000 per] and defenseman Tomas Kundratek [two years, $550,000] are other options, but their salaries aren’t enough to keep the Caps under the $64.3 million threshold.

What does the Eric Fehr-at-center experiment mean for center Mathieu Perreault?

Well, it can’t be a good thing. When asked that question, Oates said Perreault played “very well” for the Caps down the stretch last season.

“It’s not a shot at him at all,” Oates said.” But we have a logjam of players at certain positions -- [right wing] -- and we have tough decisions and that’s where you expect everybody to be a pro about it.”

Besides Wilson, are there any other players with a shot at making the team?

Honestly, no. Left wing Andre Burakovsky looked very craft and elusive and protected himself well in Monday night’s shootout win over the Flyers, but he’ll begin his North American career in Erie, Pa.

Left wing Nathan Walker has impressed Oates in his first two preseason games and he might earn a pro contract with the Hershey Bears before they open camp next Tuesday. Left wing Stan Galiev is showing signs of growth as he enters the second year of his three-year entry level contract. Galiev struggled in the AHL last season but dominated the ECHL with 47 points in 46 games. He’ll need a big season with the Bears to earn call-up duty.

Chandler Stephenson has also played well in Mikhail Grabovski’s absence at second-line center, but he’ll be heading back to Regina soon in hopes of the Caps signing him to his first pro contract.

As for defenseman Dmitry Orlov, he’ll need to step up with big performances in his final two or three exhibition games to warrant consideration as the Caps’ sixth or seventh defenseman.

So right now, what would be the Caps’ opening night lineup?

It’s just a guess, but here you go:

Forward Lines

Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin

Brooks Laich – Mikhail Grabovski – Troy Brouwer

Marty Erat – Eric Fehr -- Joel Ward

Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson

Defense Pairs

Karl Alzner – Mike Green

John Erskine – John Carlson

Jack Hillen – Steve Oleksy


Braden Holtby – Michal Neuvirth