Washington Capitals

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With short-term future secure, Caps' Grubauer eager to get to work

With short-term future secure, Caps' Grubauer eager to get to work

The days leading up to the expansion draft in June were jittery ones for Caps backup goalie Philipp Grubauer, who suspected there was a decent chance he’d get selected by the Golden Knights.

“A little stressful,” Grubauer acknowledged Tuesday following an informal practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

“We were on the phone every day or like every couple of minutes basically.”

Being left somewhat in the dark was an nerve-racking experience, even for someone who makes a living dealing with stressful situations on the ice.


“Nobody knew what was going on,” he said, referring to his camp’s attempts to figure out which direction Las Vegas GM George McPhee might chose. “We just kinda watched from Germany.”

Grubauer said he learned of his fate—McPhee ended up selecting defenseman Nate Schmidt instead—about a day before the Golden Knights’ picks were revealed during the league’s annual award show.

“Whatever happened, happened,” Grubauer said. “Everybody was a little bit surprised. But I’m glad I got to stay here in Washington another year.”

A couple of weeks later, Grubauer, who entered the offseason as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract extension with Washington.

With the start of training camp still a month away, Grubauer said he decided to join the Caps’ informal skates a few weeks earlier than usual to take advantage of the team’s facility and staff and ensure that he’s as sharp as possible when camp begins. The almost daily 70-minute sessions are run by strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish and they’ve started to ramp up in recent days as more players trickle back into town.

“We wanted to come back little bit earlier, practice here and train here with Nemo,” Grubauer said. “The facility provides us with a great, great opportunity to get ready for training camp. And there were a couple of guys are here so I wanted to come back a little bit earlier than usual to prepare myself.”


When camp begins, the Caps’ goaltending tandem will remain unchanged—Braden Holtby will be the starter and Grubauer will be the backup—but there will be a handful of new faces in the locker room. Karl Alzner, Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Daniel Winnik and Kevin Shattenkirk have moved on and will be replaced by younger, less experienced players as the Caps squeeze a more top-heavy roster underneath the salary cap.

Grubauer echoed John Carlson’s recent comments on this summer’s roster retooling, saying he hopes the infusion of new blood might be a good thing for a Caps’ team that saw little change the previous two years.

“We’re going to be a little younger than last year,” Grubauer said. “If you go through the league, like Toronto is a little bit younger, Edmonton is a little bit younger, so I think that’s where the trend is going. I think that could really be our advantage—some new blood, some new energy.”

As far as Grubauer’s personal goals for the upcoming season, the 25-year-old aims to pick up where he left off last season. In fact, it could be argued that he was the league’s best No. 2. Among goalies who played in at least 20 games, Grubauer had the second best goals against average (2.04) and was tied for the fourth best save percentage (.926).     

“Just be patient, work really hard and be successful out there, be ready to go every time,” Grubauer said, asked how he intends to approach another season as Holtby's backup. “I want to be ready to follow where I left off last year, keep improving and working hard, get better every day and we’ll see what will happen.”

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Capitals trim 11 players from training camp roster in first round of cuts


Capitals trim 11 players from training camp roster in first round of cuts

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.


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).

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Projecting the Caps' roster after the first week of training camp


Projecting the Caps' roster after the first week of training camp

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:

Forwards (14)
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

Defensemen (7)
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Aaron Ness - John Carlson
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey
Taylor Chorney

Goalies (2)
Braden Holtby
Philipp Grubauer


  • 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.