Today, the Caps kicked off their 2013 training camp, fortunately a little earlier than last year. 70 players were invited to camp this year, 40 forwards, 23 defensemen and seven goaltenders.
While there are several players that are virtual locks (in fact, it is pretty well known who is going to be on the team), there are several players that are using this training camp as an opportunity to earn some playing time, whether that be in this season or in the future.
Tyson Strachan wants to prove that he can play on this team. The 28 year old defenseman played in 38 games for the Florida Panthers last season, but can he shoot up in the top six? It’s a possibility, but he is going to have to be impressive. If he does have himself a nice camp, he could definitely see himself as a reliable 7th or 8th d-man.
Will Tom Wilson prove to everyone that he needs to stay in DC? The big man was the captain of the rookie team, and there is excitement buzzing all around him. While his contract is a little steep for the team in this cap-shortened season, will he prove that we absolutely need him right now?
How about Ryan Stoa? He hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2010-2011 season, but last year the winger played relatively well for the Hershey Bears, tallying 11 goals and eight assists in 46 games. With the departure of some grit in Hendricks, can Stoa be one of the first names called if some of our big men go down?
Or Dmitry Orlov? Remember him? The Russian d-man was a stud in the 2011-2012 season, but after an injury riddled campaign last year, he finds himself on the outside looking in. Can he prove that he should be on the team over John Erskine, over Jack Hillen, or maybe even Tomas Kundratek? The master of the hip check definitely has the abilities, but can he hone his skills in camp?
Nathan Walker’s gonna play his heart out. The only hockey player to come out of Australia is just trying to earn himself a contract. You better believe he’s gonna bust his ass.
But, as many of you may have heard, the story that dominated the camp was the early exit of Brooks Laich. Hampered by a big stupid groin injury all through last season, he appeared healthy. He had been rehabbing his groin all summer, but last thursday tweaked his hip flexor during a skate at Kettler. Laich says the hip flexor is completely unrelated to his groin injury, and because Brooks Laich would never lie, I believe him. And George McPhee says it doesn’t seem serious. And because I foolishly have done so for well over a decade, I believe him.