Nineteen of the Washington Capitals' 20 roster positions are virtually set after a week of training camp, which leaves only one spot open at left wing. The leading contenders for that vacancy are two right wings and two centers.
Leaping to prominence with three goals in Sunday's 8-2 rookie rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins' youngsters was right wing Bryan (Butsy) Erickson, a free agent from the University of Minnesota. Unfortunately, he also suffered a bruised shoulder in that contest and is scheduled for further examination Tuesday.
Right wing Mike Siltala and centers Jim McGeough and Dean Evason are others contending for that final spot. McGeough, who had been used on the left side last week, twisted an ankle and has been idle for three days, but he is scheduled to return to work Tuesday.
"Erickson and Siltala have had very good camps," said Jack Button, the club's director of player personnel. "They will be given a good look during the five exhibitions we have coming up. We'll be using them at right wing, where they will be most comfortable, and if one of them makes the big team, we can always move (Craig) Laughlin or (Ken) Houston from right wing to left.
"The ankle has hurt McGeough's chances a little, but he is so anxious to play you have to like him. He was told to stay in bed Saturday and all he was doing was saying he felt good enough to play.
"Lou Franceschetti and Torrie Robertson aren't out of it either. And whoever gets the spot, it will still be nice to know that we have a little depth in the organization for a change."
Barring an injury, the lineup for the Oct. 6 opener at Philadelphia would otherwise appear set. The goalies will be veterans Pat Riggin and Al Jensen, who was so sharp in practice today that Mike Gartner tossed his stick to the ice in disbelief after one save.
The six defensemen are likely to be Rod Langway, Brian Engblom, Scott Stevens, Peter Andersson, Timo Blomqvist and Darren Veitch.
Seemingly established up front are left wings Bengt Gustafsson, Alan Haworth and Gaetan Duchesne; centers Bob Carpenter, Dave Christian, Glen Currie and Doug Jarvis, and right wings Bob Gould, Gartner, Laughlin and Houston.
Juha Nurmi, a 6-2 winger from Finland drafted in the 10th round in 1982, was sent home today.
"He was disappointing," said David Conte, Button's assistant who once played in Finland and recommended Nurmi. "He just didn't seem to want it."
Returned to junior teams were goalies Marty Abrams, Toronto; Alain Raymond, Three Rivers, and Jamie Reeve, Regina; defenseman Yves Beaudoin, Shawinigan, and forwards Martin Bouliane, Granby, and Ed Kastelic, London. Coincidentally, Abrams' grandfather came to Hersheypark Arena today intending to watch the youngster practice.