The Capitals set their opening night roster on Friday, and it includes defenseman Tom Poti. Brooks Laich (groin) is not on the roster; instead the forward was placed on the non-roster list.
Laich suffered the injury while playing in Switzerland during the lockout and is not on the 23-man roster to open the season. Neither the team nor his agent, Roland Thompson, will say definitively whether Laich is getting paid.
Here’s the language about the non-roster distinction from the last collective bargaining agreement:
“(a) Upon approval of the Commissioner, a Player who is unavailable to play due to reasons other than injury, illness or disability (e.g., birth of a child, attending a funeral) will be designated a Non-Roster Player, and during such period of his designation as such he will not count against the Club’s Active Roster limit and his Club may replace such Player, provided, however, that the Non-Roster Player’s Player Salary and Bonuses and his replacement’s Player Salary and Bonuses are each included in calculating a Club’s Actual Club Salary and Averaged Club Salary, and the Players’ Share, for purposes of Article 50.”
The NHLPA and NHL made an agreement “that injuries incurred by Players overseas are no “hockey related injuries,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email. “The Clubs are entitled to suspend without pay for the duration of the suspension.”
Thompson offered no comment as to his client’s status.
Laich has been skating solo and not with Caps teammates since training camp began.
Putting Laich on the non-roster list means he can be activated at any time. When that happens, the Caps will have a decision to make.
Right now, they have 13 healthy forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders, a full complement of 23 players. If Poti is able to prove he can stay healthy, that could change general manager George McPhee’s approach when Laich comes back.
Poti, who hasn’t played in an NHL game since Jan. 12, 2011, is back after dealing with groin injuries and a fractured pelvis.
“I never knew if I was going to make it back to this point, so it’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of blood, sweat and tears, so to say, over the past couple years trying to get back and figure out this injury,” Poti said. “I’ll always be grateful if I can make it back.”
It’s uncertain if Poti will be in the lineup Saturday night at the Tampa Bay Lightning, but making the team was half the battle.
Here’s the roster, in the lines and pairings from this week:
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Roman Hamrlik - Mike Green
John Erskine - Jeff Schultz
Jack Hillen - Tom Poti
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin
Wojtek Wolski - Mike Ribeiro - Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks - Mathieu Perreault - Eric Fehr / Joey Crabb