The Washington Capitals sent three players to the minors and placed another on waivers yesterday afternoon, cutting down to the mandatory 23-man roster for the start of the regular season. The moves allowed the team to keep forwards Jeff Halpern, Glen Metropolit and Jeff Toms, who played well during the preseason and will add youth and quickness to the roster.

The team assigned winger Alexandre Volchkov, the fourth overall pick in 1996, and defensemen Jamie Huscroft and Alexei Tezikov to the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine.

NHL sources said the team also placed winger Ulf Dahlen on waivers. General Manager George McPhee refused to comment on the matter. Dahlen, 32, was signed for $850,000 this summer to bolster the offense after spending two seasons in Sweden. However, he looked slow in the preseason games and was outperformed by several youngsters. It's unlikely a team would pick up Dahlen, given his salary. A player placed on waivers yesterday would clear on Tuesday, when he could be sent to the minors.

Metropolit spent the last preseason game skating on the top line with Peter Bondra and Adam Oates--Dahlen's previous spot--and skated with the duo in practice as well. Richard Zednik, Jan Bulis and Steve Konowalchuk make up another scoring line. Andrei Nikolishin has centered James Black and Yogi Svejkovsky since the first day of camp. Halpern, a native of Potomac, is centering the fourth line with Chris Simon and Joe Sacco. Toms and Mike Eagles are extra forwards.

The defense comprises players who were with the team last season, except for Ken Sutton, who was claimed from New Jersey in Monday's waiver draft. Calle Johansson has been paired with Ken Klee, Sergei Gonchar with Brendan Witt, and Dmitri Mironov with Joe Reekie.

The Capitals have only one player on injured reserve: minor league defenseman Trevor Halverson, who has a concussion.

"I don't think training camp could have gone any better," McPhee said. "What we wanted to do was inject some young, quicker players into the lineup, and we accomplished that. And we wanted to have a camp where players were healthy for the start of the season, and we've done that for the first time in about four years."