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Wayne Gretzky praises former Caps GM George McPhee

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USA TODAY Sports

Wayne Gretzky praises former Caps GM George McPhee

George McPhee served as the general manager of the Capitals for 17 years and what he accomplished in Washington certainly seems to have impressed the Great One himself.

Wayne Gretzky phoned into the show "NHL Tonight" on the NHL Network on Wednesday and was asked about the NHL's newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights. When talking about what the expansion team would need to be successful, Gretzky had some glowing praise for McPhee who is now the general manager in Vegas.

“Then you have to have a workaholic general manager, and I think George McPhee’s record speaks for itself," Gretzky said. "What he’s done in the past and how hard he works and how dedicated he is to making his teams the best teams that they can be."

Under McPhee, the Capitals won the franchise's only conference championship, seven Southeast Division titles and the team's first Presidents' Trophy. McPhee has also worked with the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders, but the bulk of his management experience came with the Capitals. And evidently, Gretzky was impressed by McPhee's accomplishments there.

RELATED: Former Caps coach Bryan Murray dies at 74

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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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