The Washington Times - September 29, 2011, 11:52AM

On Thursday the Capitals got down to 27 players in camp by sending defensemen Sean Collins and Patrick McNeill and forward Chris Bourque to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.

All three need to clear waivers before officially being assigned.

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At first, it looked like great news for defenseman Dmitry Orlov, who has been more than impressive dating to rookie camp. The 20-year-old was Hershey’s “most dominant defenseman” last year, coach Mark French said recently.

It looked at first like the move could be a signal that John Erskine was nearing a return, as the big defenseman was not wearing the orange no-contact jersey. But Erskine said he had not been cleared for contact and wasn’t that close.

“It takes time to heal and it’s not fully healed yet and ready for contact,” he said. “It’s something I’ve got to deal with, and hopefully I’ll be cleared in a couple weeks.”

 

If Erskine wasn’t ready to start the season, Bruce Boudreau said someone else would have to stick around.

But the coach cautioned not to read too much into Orlov making this cut.

“It’s a good sign that he’ll play one more game, though,” Boudreau said. “That’s the only sign that I would think that we’re trying to give off right now that probably Sunday he’ll be in the lineup.”

UPDATE: Mathieu Perreault was given a day off Thursday - a “maintenance day” in hockey terms - a team spokesman said. Boudreau admitted Perreault was a little banged up.