Braden Holtby is an elusive guy.
The 2015-16 Vezina Trophy winner might be large in stature, but keeps to himself. When you do see him, he's typically covered in layers of goalie pads or briefly chatting with the media following a game.
So imagine the surprise to see Holtby take the ice at Kettler IcePlex well before training camp begins with zero goalie pads on.
That's what took place on Monday morning. As several players hit the ice for some unofficial workout sessions, there was the 6-2 Saskatchewan native strolling onto the ice, with a regular stick, regular skates, regular gloves and Andre Burakovsky's helmet.
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Frankly, it was a bit odd to see Holtby skate up and down the ice.
Maybe it's because we're used to seeing him in the crouch position. or maybe it's because we actually see his entire figure, not just a pile of leather pads.
But even goalies need to work on non-goalie skills. The more familiar you are with position players, the better you will be to stop them from scoring.
But man, seeing Holtby skate like a forward sure does take some time to get used to.
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The Capitals made their first round of roster cuts on Thursday, trimming 11 players ahead of their back-to-back preseason games against the Blues and Hurricanes.
Among the youngsters who were returned to their respective clubs: forwards Robbie Baillargeon, Tanner Jeannot, Brendan Semchuk, Mark Simpson, Jimmy DeVito, Damien Riat, Kristian Marthinsen, Beck Malenstyn, Garrett Pilon as well as defenseman Dmitri Zaitsev and goalie Adam Morrison.
Forward Kevin Elgestal, meanwhile, was returned to his European team on Wednesday.
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A week into training camp, Washington’s roster now stands at 53—30 forwards, 17 defensemen and 6 goalies. That means 30 more players will be cut or reassigned as the team gets down to the roster maximum of 23.
Coach Barry Trotz said earlier this week that a second round of cuts could come over the weekend.
None of the Friday cuts qualify as a surprise; Pilon, Riat and Malenstyn—all 2016 draft picks—appeared in a preseason game before being released back to their clubs.
The Caps were off on Thursday. They return to the ice Friday for a morning skate at 10 a.m. (for players suiting up against St. Louis) and 11:15 a.m. (for players who aren’t).
The Capitals are one week into training camp with two preseason games already in the rearview mirror. The roster battles are coming into focus and some players are already staking their claims.
So what will the final roster ultimately look like on opening day? Here's a projection based on what we have seen and heard through the first week:
Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jakub Vrana
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Tom Wilson
Nathan Walker - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson
Anthony Peluso - Devante Smith-Pelly
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Aaron Ness - John Carlson
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey
- According to Cap Friendly, this roster would put the Caps $40,000 over the salary cap. My caveat is that the salary cap is so complex that no one really knows exactly what a team's salary number is except for the team and the NHL. Cap Friendly is an incredibly useful tool, but it is a projection. A difference of $40,000 is well within the margin of error I consider to be realistic. for the Caps to make this roster fit under the cap.
- If the Caps can't make this work, don't be surprised to see them start with 22 players.
- Peluso is not talked about all that much, but the team needs Wilson to focus on his offense and not fighting. They need someone else to take that responsibility from his shoulders. Peluso may spend more time in Washington than you may think, even if he spends more games in the press box than on the ice.
- Chiasson played well in Washington's first preseason game and his versatility makes him attractive to Washington. In a pinch, he could play on the third line, perhaps even the second if needed. The only way it can really work in Washington, however, is if he agrees to sign for a league minimum $650,000 which you would think is certainly doable. He was without a job a few weeks ago, is he really going to haggle over price?
- Christian Djoos did not play particularly well in the team's first preseason game and given his size, the team will not simply give him a spot because they have a hole in the lineup. As of now, I would predict the Caps will send Djoos back to the AHL and hope his size will dissuade any potential poachers form snagging him. If he hopes to make the NHL roster, he needs to make an impactt with his next opportunity or he will almost certainly be back in the AHL.
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