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It's official: Which players did the Caps leave unprotected?

It's official: Which players did the Caps leave unprotected?

The NHL announced Sunday the players that each of the league's 30 existing teams has protected in the expansion draft and which players each team has made available to the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

The Capitals elected to the use seven forward, three defenseman and one goaltender option. On their protection list, which was submitted to the league Saturday, Washington included forwards Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson as well as defensemen John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Braden Holtby. No surprises there; those are the 11 players that made the most sense to shield, and the list was confirmed late Saturday by The Washington Post.

The Caps also exposed 27 players organization-wide. Among the notable players left unprotected were Nate Schmidt, Philipp Grubauer, Jay Beagle, Brett Connolly, Tyler Graovac, Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney and all five unrestricted free agents, an impressive group that features T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Williams, Karl Alzner and Daniel Winnik.

RELATED: Ovechkin meets soccer great Pele

Here is Washington’s available list in its entirety (via NHL.com):

Beagle, F
Chris Bourque, F
Paul Carey, F
Connolly, F
Stanislav Galiev, F
Graovac, F
Garrett Mitchell, F
Liam O'Brien, F
Oshie, F
Zach Sill, F
Chandler Stephenson, F
Christian Thomas, F
Nathan Walker, F
J. Williams, F
Winnik, F
Alzner, D
Chorney, D
Cody Corbett, D
Darren Dietz, D
Christian Djoos, D
Tom Gilbert, D
Aaron Ness, D
Orpik, D
Schmidt, D
Shattenkirk, D
Pheonix Copley, G
Grubauer, G

The Golden Knights must select one player from each presently existing team. Those selections will be announced Wednesday night during the NHL Awards show in Last Vegas.

Vegas GM George McPhee can also now begin contacting free agents such as Oshie, Shattenkirk, Alzner and others who were left unprotected by their teams. If one of those players ends up signing with the Golden Knights, he'll count as Vegas’ selection from that team.

Vegas is also permitted to complete trades in the coming days and will “give all 30 clubs every opportunity to keep their rosters intact if they’d like.”

For the right price, that is.

“This means that before the Golden Knights claim a player off a team's unprotected list,” Vegas said via a statement issued Saturday, “McPhee and his staff are willing to negotiate deals so the other clubs do not lose a player they would otherwise like to keep.”

Indeed, the next few days could get even more interesting around the NHL.

MORE CAPITALS: 20 questions: Who should be the No. 1 center?

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NHL releases Capitals 2017-2018 regular season schedule

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NHL releases Capitals 2017-2018 regular season schedule

The Washington Capitals' 2017-2018 season includes 34 home games at Verizon Center and two, four-game homestands.

The Caps open the season in Ottawa against the Senators Thursday, Oct. 5.

The first home game of the season will be against the Montreal Canadians Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Verizon Center.

Here are some other notable dates on the schedule:

Wednesday, Oct. 11 — The Caps host defending Stanley Cup champion and rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

Friday, Nov. 10 — The Caps travel to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins

Tuesday, Nov. 14 — The Caps face the defending Western Conference champions, the Nashville Predators in Nashville.

Saturday, Nov. 18 to Friday, Nov. 24 — The Caps host a four-game homestand against Minnesota, Calgary, Ottawa and Tampa Bay respectively.

Saturday, Dec. 2 to Friday, Dec. 8 — The Caps host a four-game homestand against Columbus, San Jose, Chicago and the Rangers respectively.

Saturday, Dec. 23 — The Caps travel to Las Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the first time.

Saturday, Jan. 13 to Wednesday, Jan. 17 — BYE WEEK

Saturday, Jan. 27 to Sunday, Jan. 28 — All Star Weekend

Friday, Feb. 2 — The Caps travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins for the third time this season.

Sunday, Feb. 4 — The Caps host the Las Vegas Golden Knights on Super Bowl Sunday.

Saturday, Mar. 3 — The Caps host the Mape Leafs for their Stadium Series game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

Sunday, Apr. 1 — The Caps travel to Pittsburgh for the fourth and final time.

Thursday, Apr. 5 — The Caps host the Nashville Predators in their second to last game of the season.

Saturday, Apr. 7 — The Caps regular season ends at home against the New Jersey Devils.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL 2017-2018 SCHEDULE

 

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Caps re-sign Djoos, could he be a potential Schmidt replacement?

Caps re-sign Djoos, could he be a potential Schmidt replacement?

In the wake of losing Nate Schmidt to the Vegas expansion draft, the Capitals re-signed defensive prospect Christian Djoos to a two-year, $1.3 million contract with the Caps, Brian MacLellan announced Wednesday.

Re-signing Djoos, a restricted free agent, became a huge priority for Washington in the wake of the expansion draft. Djoos was expected to compete along with Madison Bowey for a spot on the NHL roster next season even before Schmidt's sudden departure. Now the team may find itself in need of both prospects to take on full-time roles next season.

RELATED: How do the Caps recover from the loss of Schmidt?

The Caps are returning Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov and John Carlson next season, all who are expected to take top-three roles. Behind them are Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney. That gives the team only five defensemen when most teams carry seven.

Djoos, 22, showed he could be ready for the move up to the NHL with a 58-point season in Hershey. He is a great skater and tremendously skilled, but there are questions about his size. He is 6 feet tall and weighs only 164 pounds, putting him on the small side. Does he have the skill to make up for that lack of size? That is what the Caps will be asking themselves this offseason.

One other thing to consider si the fact that Djoos is no longer waiver exempt. he could prove to be a pretty tempting prospect for any teams if the Caps try to call him up or send him to the AHL. Wherever he starts at the beginning of the season, Washington or Hershey, is likely where he will stay.

MORE CAPITALS: MacLellan says prospects 'ready to make the jump' to replace Schmidt