Tyson Strachan didn’t make the team; will Tom Wilson? (Photo credit: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

With the deadline to submit opening-day rosters approaching at 5:00 PM Tuesday, the Washington Capitals moved towards finalizing their 23-player roster with a flurry of moves on Sunday.

The Caps assigned defensemen Michal Cajkovsky, Dmitry Orlov, and Tyson Strachan (who cleared waivers at noon) and forward Dane Byers to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears. They have also placed forward Joel Rechlicz on waivers. Today was the final day players could be put on waivers before rosters must be set, meaning the Caps won’t be able to demote any more players who have those rights.

That leaves Washington with 21 players on the roster (13 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders) and three prospects trying to crack the lineup: Connor Carrick, Tom Wilson, and Michael Latta.

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Brooks Laich Says He Will Play in the Caps Season Opener

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Photo credit: @CJanes15

Brooks Laich‘s last year has been miserable (minus this moment), and the new 2013-14 season hasn’t started any better either. After playing in just nine games last season due to a groin injury he suffered during the lockout, Laich hurt himself 10 minutes into the first day of training camp.

“It was a left hip flexor,” Laich said that day after leaving the ice. “It is completely non-related to what happened to me last year. We’ll monitor it day-by-day, and it should come back very very quickly.”

Three weeks later, Laich has played only one preseason game and he’s barely skated. Hip flexors are notorious for being lingering injuries.

According to The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes, however, Laich will play in the Washington Capitals season opener on Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Head coach Adam Oates confirmed that news as well.

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Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich came out from the lockerroom and addressed with the media why he left the ice only after ten minutes this morning. “It was a left hip flexor,” Laich said to 106.7 The Fan’s Sky Kerstein. “It is completely non-related to what happened to me last year.”

“We’ll monitor it day-by-day and it should come back very very quickly,” Laich added according to Monumental Network.

Laich also suggested that the ice at Kettler may have contributed to his injury. “The ice back home [in Saskatchewan] is very hard, and I came here and this ice is very soft.”

Laich says he tweaked his hip and first started feeling pain last Thursday.

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Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

Well that was fast. Our long national nightmare continues. Brooks Laich is hurt again.

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21 Days Out: Brooks Laich is Brooks Laich

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Normally, I’d put some stat analysis or some opinion in here, but today– 21 days out from the beginning of the season– let’s just appreciate Brooks Laich.

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30 Days Out: Healthy Mike, Healthy Brooks, Healthy Nicky

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The first puck of the 2013-14 season will drop in exactly 30 days, so we’re going to spend the whole month reminding ourselves of all the good things coming our way on October 1st. I thought I’d start with this little gem: Everybody’s healthy. For once.

Over the last two seasons, Mike Green, Brooks Laich, and Nick Backstrom have combined to play just 63.5% of games. Concussions and #brittlegroin have cost those players a combined 142 man-games, probably a big factor in the Caps’ struggles since 2011. After successful rehab for all three, we’ve got reason to think those troubles are behind us now.

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Garrett Mitchell’s Wife is a Brooks Laich Fan

Photo credit: Garrett Mitchell’s Twitter (@Mitchy1_0)

Garrett Mitchell has had a great summer, marrying his long-time girlfriend Talita.

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Photo credit: @MSEFndn

On Saturday, Washington Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer donated their time to DCPS Beautification Day. The event, established in 2005, is an annual citywide spruce-up of select D.C. Public Schools prior to the first day of school. A rad idea, one made even better by the athlete participation.

Backstrom and Brouwer didn’t just hang out and sign autographs for volunteers. They put in work too. The teammates helped paint a giant mural and did some landscaping outside (all the while trying to dodge their more emphatic fans).

Backstrom kept spirits high for one particular volunteer (and RMNB reader), Izzy Roscoe. Izzy, who volunteered at a Caps sponsored clean-up at Fort Dupont last April, got some special help from Nicky B while painting a mural near Neval Thomas Elementary School’s auditorium. Nick shows Izzy his gratitude in a photo they took together.

I’ll let her explain.

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Brooks Laich’s New Twitter Avatar is Perf (Photo)

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So Brooks Laich went digging through his house and found a gem: a photo of himself as a kid with his brother (far left) and a friend who is a dead ringer for a young Nail Yakupov (middle). I sympathize the buffoon who doesn’t love Li’l Brooksy’s t-shirt.

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee went on ESPN980 Wednesday afternoon to talk hockey, and boy did he hit some interesting topics. McPhee explained what characteristics the Caps need to have to become a Stanley Cup winner in the future, and he defended his decision to anoint Brooks Laich the second-line center for next season. “There are a handful of teams that maybe have a better second-line center than Brooks,” he said. “It’s [an idea] we’ve been talking about for a few years, and the time has come to do it.”

The most interesting part of the discussion, however, was McPhee’s remarks on Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is due in North America sometime next year. McPhee admits some frustration about the two-year contract Kuznetsov signed with Traktor Chelyabinsk last spring to stay in the KHL, saying that Kuznetsov went against a verbal promise he made after the 2010 NHL Draft. He also talks about how hard of a contract it was for Kuznetsov to turn down. “He’s 20-years-old, they gave him ten million dollars to play for two more seasons,” McPhee said.  “It’s a 13% tax rate over there and even with that, most of the money is under the table. It’s probably no tax.”

The KHL never made Kuzya’s contract public, but it is believed his average annual salary from Traktor is in the two-million range. That would mean that the KHL gave Kuznetsov a bonus around $5 million to stay. And, as we learned from an Igor Kleyner post last year, the KHL’s Legal Regulations handbook has a open-ended rule that allows the league to do exactly just that.

[Traktor] may also apply to the KHL for a special stipend to supplement the young star’s salary. There are no specific limits on the amount of such a stipend, or any clear criteria defining eligibility.

Below, check out McPhee’s entire interview with ESPN980.

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