A year ago, the Washington Capitals had the youngest team in the National Hockey League. That factor leaves the Capitals in an enviable situation when the NHL waiver draft is held on Tuesday.

Although the board of governors 10 days ago cut the protected lists to 16 skaters and two goalies, instead of 17 and two, the exemption afforded young players made it unnecessary for the Capitals to protect such as Andre Hidi, Gary Sampson, Dean Evason, Peter Andersson and Bob Mason when they filed their list at noon today.

Accordingly, only five Capitals are available to be selected Tuesday. Among them are three of the four free agents General Manager David Poile signed last summer -- Marc Chorney, Graeme Nicolson and Paul Gardner. The others are Lou Franceschetti, who played in Hershey last season, and Greg Adams, who scored two goals in 57 games.

Chorney, Nicolson, Franceschetti and Adams already have been named to start the upcoming season in Binghamton. Gardner's status will be revealed Saturday when the squad is cut down.

Defenseman Timo Blomqvist, who was forced out of Thursday's 6-3 victory over Hartford when he took a slap shot on the left hand, suffered only bruised fingers and will not miss any practice.

Goalie Al Jensen, who has a bruised knee, is showing considerable improvement. He is expected to resume practice Sunday, at which time Mason will be dispatched to Binghamton.