Capitals make changes to blue line

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RALEIGH, N.C. | The Washington Capitals had nine healthy defensemen on the ice for Tuesday’s morning skate. By game time against the Carolina Hurricanes, the blue line had a different look.

Dmitry Orlov and Tomas Kundratek were sent to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. They were set to be healthy scratches against Carolina.

Orlov and Kundratek will get a chance to play significant minutes in the AHL. It appears as though Steve Oleksy passed Kundratek on the depth chart among right-handed defensemen.

John Erskine was activated off injured reserve. Coach Adam Oates called Erskine game-time decision after missing 12 games with an upper-body injury.

“I think I’m physically good to go,” Erskine said. “A couple hard practices there, and I had to see how I recovered.”

Nate Schmidt was signed as a college free agent from the University of Minnesota and is expected to practice with the Caps on Wednesday. As highly sought-after as the 21-year-old was, it’s possible he plays immediately, like Thursday against the New York Islanders.

Jack Hillen was signed to a two-year contract extension worth $1.4 million. The 26-year-old got his first one-way deal from the Caps last summer and was happy to get this commitment. Hillen was also relieved to get the deal out of the way as his wife is due to give birth to the couple’s second child within the next two weeks.

“I just wanted to get it settled and get it behind me so I can just concentrate on hockey and play the game,” Hillen said. “Stuff off the ice, it’s nice when it takes care of itself and when that’s what happens, you can just focus on hockey and have fun playing.”

 

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