RETURNING CAPS (6)
Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, Brooks Orpik, Nate Schmidt.
OFFSEASON NHL ADDITIONS (3)
Taylor Chorney (Pittsburgh Penguins/Wilkes-Barre), Aaron Ness (Bridgeport in AHL), Ryan Stanton (Vancouver Canucks).
OFFSEASON NHL DEPARTURES (6)
John Erskine (unsigned), Tim Gleason (unsigned), Mike Green (Detroit Red Wings, free agent), Steve Oleksy (Pittsburgh Penguins, free agent), Cameron Schilling (Chicago Blackhawks, free agent), Patrick Wey (retired).
ROOKIE TOURNAMENT PARTICIPANTS (6)
Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Connor Hobbs, Tyler Lewington, Jonas Siegenthaler, Keoni Texeira
REMAINING INVITEES (5)
Erik Burgdoerfer, Connor Carrick, Joey Leach, Mike Moore, Bobby Shea.
>> Defenseman Brooks Orpik never expected to need surgery this offseason, but a lingering wrist issue forced his hand. He only recently began strengthening the repaired tendon with a grip ball, still wears a partial cast while skating and, as of earlier this week, wasn’t able to attempt slap shots or lift heavier weights. The pain is gone, but “range of motion and tightness” remain issues. Like center Nicklas Backstrom, the veteran wants to be cautious during the preseason.
“It’s been a long seven weeks,” he said, on that exact anniversary of the operation. “Definitely wouldn’t want to re-injure it and go through that again.”
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1) Replacing Mike Green: How Coach Barry Trotz handles the third pair is addressed below, but Green delivered much more than his 1.36 points per 60 even-strength minutes last season. Including his power play time, which dipped in mid-February after the Capitals switched him with defenseman John Carlson atop the first unit, Green’s 1.96 points per 60 minutes ranked second among all NHL blue-liners, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com. And over the past five years, only Erik Karlsson tallied more first assists per 60 power play minutes among defensemen with at least 800 total minutes.
2) Competition at the Nos. 5, 6 and 7 spots: Schmidt and Orlov have the inside track here to team up on the third pair, but the former was reassigned to Hershey midseason due to what Trotz described as on-ice inconsistencies and the latter never played an NHL game last season while recovering from wrist surgery. Carrick, Chorney, Ness and Stanton should challenge for the seventh spot, and should receive plenty of chances to prove themselves during exhibitions. After all, the top four isn’t going anywhere.
3) Prospects in the pipeline: The future of the Hershey Bears’ blue line was on display for three games in Estero, Fla., during the four-team rookie tournament, with Bowey, Djoos and Lewington all ticketed for the AHL this season. Djoos and Lewington formed a dynamic, puck-moving pair together, while Bowey flashed his offensive potential with a deep blast during the second game against Tampa Bay. Ice time will be at a premium for Coach Troy Mann, what with Leach and Shea inked to AHL-only deals and several other veterans competing for minutes, but at times the Bears’ blue line will be younger than it’s been in recent memory. And that’s without mentioning second-round pick Jonas Siegenthaler, who played on the rookie team’s top pair beside Bowey.
“I was happy with all of them,” assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said. “They’re all obviously drafted in different rounds, but I thought they all showed very well.”