Washington Capitals center Lars Eller will miss Wednesday night’s preseason game against the St. Louis Blues because of an “upper-body” injury that’s considered day-to-day. Coach Todd Reirden said the team is holding out Eller just to be cautious.

“It’s preseason, so we’ll have him play hopefully next game and do the right thing,” Reirden said. “We’re not going to play a player who’s not 100-percent in a preseason game.”

The Capitals already will be down a center to start the regular season because Evgeny Kuznetsov is suspended for the first three games for “inappropriate conduct,” and Eller is expected to center the second line in his absence. That leaves Washington looking for a short-term fix for Eller’s usual place on the third line. Center Connor McMichael, the Capitals’ 18-year-old first-round draft pick, will be in that spot Wednesday night, centering wingers Carl Hagelin and Richard Panik.

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While McMichael almost certainly will be returned to his Canadian junior club in London, Ontario, before the seasons starts, the Capitals are giving him a chance to show he belongs beside NHLers before the first round of training camp cuts Thursday. He played in Monday’s preseason opener, tallying a primary assist on a goal by Damien Riat.

“He’s excellent with the puck,” Reirden said. “His offensive reads and feel for the game has been very strong for a young player so far. And we’ll continue to work on his play away from the puck and the challenge of playing defense in this game is so important at this level. St. Louis has got some good players in the lineup, so we’ll see him playing against a good group of players and evaluate after again.”

Prospect forwards Riley Sutter and Kody Clark and defenseman Alex Alexeyev haven’t skated at all during the first week of training camp because of upper-body injuries. Defenseman Michal Kempny, who tore his hamstring late last season, remains limited, participating in drills but still donning a noncontact jersey. Washington is optimistic he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener on Oct. 2.

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