The Capitals announced their final roster cuts Monday morning. The most surprising dismissal was veteran center Derek Roy, who played well during training camp. With Jay Beagle announced as the team’s third-line center and Nicklas Backstrom potentially missing only four games, the Caps must have seen little upside keeping Roy around as a fourth-line center.
The Caps also cut forwards Liam O’Brien and Chandler Stephenson, defensemen Aaron Ness and Ryan Stanton, and goalie Justin Peters, who struggled mightily last year, from training camp. That means Philipp Grubauer will be Braden Holtby’s back-up this year.
As the Capitals PR team noted, Ness, Peters, and Stanton will all have to pass through waivers before joining the Hershey Bears in the AHL.
For those of you keeping track at home, that means forwards Chris Brown (who is injured), surprise-of-camp Sean Collins, and oft-criticzed Stan Galiev all remain on the roster, at least for now.
Save for Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom is the best player on the Washington Capitals – and it’s been that way for some time. Seeing him on crutches, then, after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery in late May was an unwelcome sight for Caps fans. On Wednesday, after four months of recovery, Backstrom practiced with his teammates for the first time since the operation — albeit in a non-contact jersey. Still, the star center who didn’t miss a game last season is likely to miss this year’s opener, though the a quicker return that some feared.
“There’s no timetable,” Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said when asked when Backstrom might get back into game action or lose the non-contact jersey. “Whenever he’s ready, he’s ready. I consider Nick a franchise player and you never put a franchise player at risk. When he’s ready, he’ll be ready. That will be determined by our medical staff, his doctor and more importantly, Nick himself.”
Photo: Amanda Bowen
Let me be clear: I don’t care about the preseason of any sport, not even hockey. Takeaways from preseason are often worthless, for a wide variety of reasons. Intersquad scrimmages are even further down the ladder of things we should care about and read into. And, considering line combinations aren’t worth getting worked up about on a day-to-day basis during the season, no one should read much into lines from a scrimmage at training camp.
But let’s do it anyway.
Backstrom in pain after taking an elbow from Rene Bourque. (Photo credit: AP)
We don’t need to tell you again. Every person in the DC area can probably tell you that the Caps need centers right now. In fact, with the new revelation that Nicklas Backstrom might be out for longer than we thought, the situation just got a little more dire – Ted Leonsis has stated that the Caps will be looking to make additions at the deadline, and there are some very specific pieces they’ll be looking for.
“I liked the team we had put together this summer. Of course we’ve only had that team on ice for eight games. We’re 8-0 in those games.” George McPhee told the Washington Post’s John Feinstein. “I still think if we get our guys back and if we can add something here in the next couple of weeks we’re good enough to win the Stanley Cup. Then again, a lot of teams are looking to add something right now, too.”
There certainly are, and it’s a thin market this year, but it certainly looks as if the Caps plan to be buyers, not sellers. With that in mind, here’s a shopping list of possible additions the Caps could make at the trade deadline, based on practical likeliness, scurrilous rumors, an idea of which teams may be looking to sell at the deadline, and other arbitrary factors.
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