John Erskine wasn’t wearing a bright orange no-contact jersey in Thursday’s practice at KCI, but unfortunately for the rugged defenseman, he hasn’t been cleared for contact just yet.
Erskine, who underwent shoulder surgery in May, took part in what was a special teams oriented practice, working with the penalty killers, but he wasn’t in situations that put strain on his surgically repaired shoulder.
“It’s something I’ve got to deal with and hopefully I’ll be clear in a couple weeks,” Erskine said. “When that time comes I’ll probably see the doctor and he’ll either [tell] me the I’m good to go or that I need to rest it some more.”
With Erskine still a few weeks away from being cleared for contact in practices, it’s possible the Capitals could elect to keep an extra defensemen around. Excluding Erskine and Tom Poti , there are six NHL-ready defensemen on the roster, along with young blueliner Dmitry Orlov .
Orlov, 20, is set to play his first full season in North America this year and survived the latest round of cuts to remain in Washington. Orlov has already appeared in three exhibition games and continues to wow teammates and coaches with his natural talent, but Coach Bruce Boudreau downplayed the significance of his extended stay with the Capitals and said not to read into the move.
“It’s a good sign that he’ll play one more game, though, I would think,” Boudreau said. “That’s the only sign that I would think that we’re trying to give off right now — probably Sunday he’ll be in the lineup.”
More is on the way, but in the meantime, here are a few other items of note from the Capitals’ Thursday practice:
* Mathieu Perreault did not practice and is a little banged up, according to Boudreau, but like everyone else who has missed a session during training camp, it’s for precautionary reasons.
* Braden Holtby practiced with the team at KCI this morning, while Michal Neuvirth was given a day off to rest for precautionary reasons while nursing a minor injury. Boudreau said he expects Neuvirth to practice on Saturday.
*The Capitals were sporting sweater numbers on the tops of their helmets Thursday. The numbers, according to the NHL’s Schuyler Baehman, were added to aid officials, broadcasters and others by providing extra player identification.