OTTAWA | With Mike Green back and plenty of healthy defensemen on the Washington Capitals’ roster, coach Dale Hunter now has the luxury of picking and choosing whom to sit. On Monday he didn’t have much of a choice with Dmitry Orlov sick, but Wednesday was a different situation.
Orlov feels well enough to play, and veteran Roman Hamrlik will sit out against the Ottawa Senators as a healthy scratch.
“You want him to be a defensive defenseman. He’s giving up too many chances, so he’s out of the lineup,” Hunter said of Hamrlik. “Giving up too many scoring chances; he took a bad penalty last game. So we’re going to put someone else in.”
Hamrlik has been on the ice for four goals against in the past five games, and just six in the past 10 games. In that time, the Caps have allowed 24.
Still, at 37 years old he is a step slower than the Caps likely envisioned when giving him a two-year, $7 million contract.
Hamrlik has two goals and eight assists and is a plus-1 this season. He’s a plus-11 player under Hunter.
But the coach seemed less than pleased with Hamrlik’s recent play, and this time of year his veteran status doesn’t mean much.
“Everybody’s even. We’ve got to make the playoffs,” Hunter said. “It’s a battle of who stays in the lineup.”
According to report by the French-language outlet RDS, the Caps are shopping Hamrlik and the defenseman would like out.
“Hamrlik has been offered a few teams, but the Capitals are very demanding,” RDS reporter Renaud Lavoie wrote, as roughly translated.
If the Caps are indeed trying to move Hamrlik, he might draw some legitimate interest around the league because of his leadership and shot-blocking ability. He’s 19th in the NHL in blocks with 119.
Hamrlik’s agent, Petr Svoboda, said in an email seeking comment that he has not yet requested a trade.
The six defensemen Wednesday night will be Green, Orlov, Dennis Wideman, Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Jeff Schultz.