On Tuesday morning, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau addressed his team with a simple message: This is it. This is the team.
“It’s nice to hear when the coach comes in and says that,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “It eases a little bit on everybody, and you can take that deep breath and exhale and relax and focus in on the games at hand and the start of the regular season.”
Now, that’s officially the team that will start the season, as the Caps finalized their roster before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline by making a couple of injury moves. They placed defenseman Tom Poti on long-term injured reserve with nagging groin problems and put defenseman John Erskine on the regular injury list.
General manager George McPhee has said multiple times he considered Poti’s ongoing groin injuries career-threatening, so this move was no surprise. Poti has not been seen around Kettler Capitals Iceplex this fall after failing his medical exam before camp started. Poti’s $2.875 million hit comes off the salary cap and makes Washington compliant.
Erskine (offseason shoulder surgery) is skating with his teammates every day but still hasn’t been cleared to take contact, even in practice. He said Tuesday it would still be a couple weeks. Erskine’s salary will count against the cap.
So the Caps head into the regular season with just six heathy defensemen – but that’s OK with Boudreau, given the ease of recalling Dmitry Orlov or Sean Collins.
This roster is made up of 22 players counting $62,840,128 against the salary cap, with an allowance of $1,459,872 under the ceiling because of Poti’s injury.