The Washington Times - March 19, 2011, 02:15PM

ARLINGTON, Va. – Garrett Mitchell isn’t one of the Capitals’ elite prospects – Hockey’s Future ranks him 19th. But the right winger is considered a piece of the team’s future, and now he’s under contract.

The Caps inked their sixth-round pick from 2009 to a three-year, entry-level contract Saturday. Mitchell could conceivably join the Hershey Bears sooner rather than later, as he had been playing for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League and they are no longer in contention for the playoffs.

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Mitchell has 18 goals, 32 assists and 140 penalty minutes in 69 games with Regina this season. He’s 5-foot-11, 185 pounds and was the 175th overall pick in 2009. Hockey’s Future calls him an energy player with third-line potential – and he’s obviously far behind some of his teammates from that draft, including Marcus Johansson, Cody Eakin and Dmitry Orlov.

Boudreau-ism of day

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau – unfiltered – on missing Jason Arnott in the locker room already:

“I think we miss him. We’ve only had him for two weeks; I don’t know how much we miss him. He’s a good leader; he’s not like we’ve had him like Detroit has had Nick Lidstrom or something and we miss him. He was there today, he’s a good presence and we can’t wait for him to get back.”

Not quite an optional skate

Most of the Caps were on ice at Kettler on Saturday morning for practice with only four guys missing – Jason Arnott (undisclosed, week-to-week), Mike Green (concussion, day-to-day) and Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, who were given maintenance days.

With the injuries the Caps have endured, Boudreau is managing his team carefully.

“Well you didn’t see guys out here today. Some guys need maintenance days,” he said. “Some guys play a lot and their bodies are sore and they need to heal, and that’s one advantage of having three days off before your next game.”

The entire team has off Sunday and will practice at 10:30 a.m. Monday before flying to Philadelphia.