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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 play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.

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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Capitals release 2017-18 promotional calendar

Capitals release 2017-18 promotional calendar

The Capitals Tuesday night released their 2017-18 promotional schedule. This season’s promotions include several giveaways and theme nights.

The giveaways include a schedule magnet on opening night (Oct. 7 vs. Canadiens), a Zamboni gravy boat (Nov. 22 vs. Senators), a puck bottle opener (March 16 vs. Islanders) and a T.J. Oshie bobblehead (March 20 vs. Stars.)

RELATED: Ovechkin, Kuznetsov set to start the season on a line together

Among the theme nights are Military Appreciation Night (Feb. 20 vs. Lightning) and Hockey is for Everyone Night (Feb. 24 vs. Sabres.)

The calendar also includes a few games with a focus on community involvement. There will be a canned food drive before Thanksgiving (Nov. 18 vs. Wild) and a #CapsCare toy drive prior to Christmas (Dec. 8 vs. Rangers.)

Here is the full release with a link to the entire promotional calendar.

More Capitals: There's a spot on the Caps' blue line waiting for Madison Bowey. Will he seize it?

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Ovechkin, Kuznetsov set to start the season on a line together

Ovechkin, Kuznetsov set to start the season on a line together

Alex Ovechkin will start the season on a line centered by Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday.

“I’ve had them pretty well together the whole camp,” Trotz said. “You can probably see that.”

Trotz also said he intends to have T.J. Oshie centered by Nicklas Backstrom when the Caps open the regular season in Ottawa on Oct. 5.

RELATED: CAN MADISON BOWEY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIS OPPORTUNITY AND SEIZE A ROSTER SPOT?

Trotz said his plan entering the season is to pair a high-end skill veteran wing with a high-end skill veteran center on each of the first two lines, then add a young player on the other wing.

Andre Burakovsky, 22, figures to be one of those young wingers, giving the Caps five of their top six. The sixth spot, however, remains up for grabs, with Jakub Vrana, 21, Brett Connolly, 25, and others set to compete for it.

“We’re going to start with Kuzy and probably Ovi together and probably a Backy-Osh [pairing], and we’ve got to find…who’s going to go with them,” Trotz said.

Trotz added: “Nothing is permanent in this business, as you know. But that’s probably where we want to start.”

In the battle for the final spot in the top six, Vrana will get the first chance to show what he’s got. The 2014 first round pick will skate on the right of Ovechkin and Kuznetsov as the Caps play preseason game No. 2 in Montreal on Wednesday night.   

“The thing with ‘V’ is he’s a young guy who’s got speed,’ Trotz said of Vrana. “He can get to space, and when he does, he can shoot it. There are very few guys that can skate with Kuzy. We drafted him to be a high prospect and we want to put him in that position. It’s in his hands now.”

Trotz said he’ll reveal the rest of the lineup that’s headed to Bell Centre on Wednesday morning. 

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