Though coaching camp does not formally start till Sept. 22, I have been making common visits to MedStar Capitals Iceplex over the previous few weeks to reconnect with crew personnel and watch the gamers’ optionally available practices.
This is a few of the intel I’ve gathered in latest days because the skates have grown in attendance and depth.
• Monday morning’s informal skate noticed the largest group of veterans and prospects on the ice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex of the offseason. Nearly everybody whom I count on to make the opening night time roster was in attendance for the session, which was run by goalie coach Scott Murray and commenced with abilities earlier than ending with a spirited five-on-five scrimmage.
The skate was so effectively attended, in actual fact, it needed to be divided into two for the primary time this offseason — Alex Ovechkin and the NHL veterans went first and the prospects hit the ice afterward.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) September 12, 2022
Close to full attendance every week and a half earlier than the beginning of camp is an effective factor, in fact. It is also a robust indication that everybody who’s penciled into the opening night time lineup is wholesome.
• Monday’s group didn’t characteristic Nicklas Backstrom or Tom Wilson, each of whom proceed to rehab long-term accidents.
Backstrom, who had surgical procedure on his troublesome left hip in June, has been within the DC space for a number of weeks now and has been at MCI every day, rehabbing behind the scenes with head athletic coach Jason Serbus.
The longtime alternate captain is slated to take part within the crew’s inner advertising photograph shoot later this week. The plan is for him to be on the ice in full gear, although he is anticipated to take it straightforward — very easy. As in, there will not be any begins and stops or something strenuous.
It is believed that it’ll mark Backstrom’s first time on skates because the finish of final season. Whereas it is nonetheless unclear when Backstrom goes to really feel ok to start out ramping issues up — on the ice, no less than — his participation within the photograph shoot would appear to be a step in the suitable path, even when only a small one .
• Wilson, in the meantime, is believed to be forward of schedule in his restoration from ACL reconstruction surgical procedure on his left knee, which should not be as a lot of a shock given his work ethic.
Like Backstrom, the 28-year-old winger can also be slated to take part within the crew’s advertising photograph shoot. And, like Backstrom, he’ll even be in full gear however he’s anticipated to take issues slowly.
When will Wilson return to the lineup? The unique timeline instructed that he’d be recovered wherever from late November to late January. Now, although, the crew is optimistic that he is on tempo to come back again on the entrance finish of that preliminary estimate. Name it early December(ish).
• Carl Hagelin, then again, have you ever been an everyday participant within the casual skates this summer time as he works his approach again from a big eye damage.
Just a few weeks in the past, the 34-year-old switched to a Dany Heatley-like visor that comes down considerably decrease than most. Hagelin’s visor can also be tinted.
The penalty kill specialist additionally not too long ago ditched the child blue no-contact jersey for a standard one — a improvement that I first famous final Thursday.
I’ve since been cautioned to not learn an excessive amount of into that. Sure, it signifies that Hagelin can tackle extra contact than earlier than, however, I used to be reminded, he nonetheless has many hurdles but to beat earlier than he’s cleared to return.
I’ve additionally seen that Hagelin hasn’t at all times participated totally in post-scrimmage conditioning, which makes me marvel if one thing else is bothering him, too.
• Looking forward to camp, it does not seem as if there are going to be any apparent place battles.
Competitors for ice time and roles? Positive. Competitors for present roster spots? Not a lot.
Goaltending was solidified with the free-agent signings of Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren.
All six spots on the blue line gave the impression to be spoken for, with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Nick Jensen, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Martin Fehervary again and Erik Gustafsson signed to exchange Justin Schultz, who departed through free company.
There’s not a lot wiggle room up entrance, both. There are 11 wholesome veteran forwards on one-way contracts — Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie, Anthony Mantha, Connor Brown, Lars Eller, Dylan Strome, Garnet Hathaway, Conor Sheary, Nic Dowd and Marcus Johansson. Connor McMichael makes 12; he is coming into the second 12 months of a three-year, entry-level contract.
May a prospect like Axel Jonsson-Fjallby or Joe Snively drive his approach into the combo because the fourth-line left wing? Maybe. Is there an opportunity Lucas Johansen or Matt Irwin might apply stress on Gustafsson? Possibly. Within the large image what it means is that this: Camp goes to be much less about precise jobs at stake and extra about who gels with whom.
• It does not seem like the Caps will probably be out there to signal anybody to knowledgeable tryout settlement (PTO).
• Head tools supervisor Brock Myles and his workers determine to be busier than regular this season. Rather a lot busier. why? The Caps are going to put on 5 (5!) totally different uniforms this season — the conventional reds at residence and whites on the street, the blue alternates (with the massive “W”) on choose nights in DC, a yet-to-be -announced uniform for February’s Stadium Collection recreation in Raleigh, NC, and a brand new reverse retro, which is rumored to be black.
That is rather a lot of helmets, jerseys, pants and gloves to juggle. It is also essentially the most uniforms the Caps have ever worn in a single season.
• Talking of uniforms, the image I tweeted out final week of prospect Hendrix Lapierre carrying a Capitals jersey with the brand new Caesars Sportsbook emblem created fairly a stir on-line.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) September 6, 2022
You would possibly as effectively get used to it.
The crew can also be in negotiations to promote advert area on the street jerseys, too.
Capital One’s emblem will proceed to be featured on the helmets.
• NBC Sports activities Washington, the regional sports activities community that broadcasts Caps video games and that was not too long ago bought by Monumental Sports activities & Leisure, shouldn’t be anticipated to alter its title this season, per business sources. It’s anticipated that the community will probably be renamed forward of the 2023-24 marketing campaign, probably with the steerage of a advertising agency that makes a speciality of rebranding.
• I’ve additionally been knowledgeable by business sources that the expertise lineup shouldn’t be slated to alter for the upcoming season. Within the sales space, Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin will proceed of their roles as play-by-play announcer and shade commentator, respectively. Al Koken, in the meantime, will proceed to function the intermission interviewer and rinkside reporter. In studio, Alexa Landestoy and Alan Might will return as the first hosts on the pregame and postgame reveals.
• The Washington Capitals Alumni Affiliation on Monday introduced that this 12 months’s “Alumni Weekend” will happen Oct. 6-8. The occasion will characteristic 20-plus alumni who’ll take part in a fundraiser, hockey clinics in addition to a meet and greet, per the press launch. On Oct. 7, the alumni will attend Caps observe and spend a while with the present gamers.
You will discover extra in regards to the weekend right here.
So who’s going to be there? Along with the same old characters, followers can count on Sergei Gonchar, Dmitri Khristich, Richard Zednik, Nick Kypreos, Kelly Miller, Andrei Nikolishin and Steve Oleksy to be among the many alumni in attendance.
(Photograph by Tom Wilson: Brad Mills/USA Immediately)