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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 25 Aaron Ness

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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 25 Aaron Ness

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.

Today’s player: No. 25 Aaron Ness

With the departure of Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Kevin Shattenkirk, the Capitals have a few holes on their blue line. Most people have prospects Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos penciled in for big roles this season, but don’t forget about Aaron Ness.

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At 27 years old, Ness has spent the majority of his career in the AHL and has established himself as a depth defenseman. He is likely not the first player people think of when thinking of options for the Caps on defense, but he will get a long look at training camp and could get a significant role this season.

Among the prospects who will be competing for playing time with the Caps, Ness is the most experienced with 39 NHL games under his belt. He is also the cheapest with a cap hit of only $612,500. That’s below the NHL’s current minimum salary of $650,000. It does not get cheaper than that. With Washington still tight against the cap, Ness’ salary will make him an attractive option to fill the lineup.

As someone who has to pass through waivers, Ness could very likely start the season with the NHL club as a cheap, veteran insurance policy for the Caps.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here.

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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.

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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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