The Washington Times - January 8, 2013, 01:52PM

Capitals general manager George McPhee couldn’t talk about Nicklas Backstrom’s health or lack thereof, and he wasn’t eager to talk about the NHL lockout and CBA negotiations. But McPhee did provide some newsworthy items during his first 2013 meeting with reporters.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

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Defenseman Dmitry Orlov “probably” won’t be ready for the start of the shortened regular season. Orlov suffered an upper-body injury Dec. 6 while playing for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League and hasn’t taken part in a game since.

“He’s been out for a while, but starting to work out again and feeling better, so it could be a little bit longer,” McPhee said. “But as soon as he’s ready, he’ll be here.”

Because Orlov has been out so long, “he’s going to have to get his legs under him again,” McPhee said.

There’s a hope that Orlov skates soon.

“Everything sounds like it’s improving, so hopefully we’ll know more in a few days,” McPhee said.

***

McPhee said Tuesday morning his hope was for Caps camp to start Saturday. Of course everything is pending ratification of the collective bargaining agreement by the NHL’s Board of Governors and the Players’ Association.

But according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, Sunday is the goal. And the season is expected to be 48 games.

“It’s now our objective to be in a position to open Training Camps by Sunday, January 13,” Daly wrote in an email. “And if we can do so, we would plan to commence a 48-game Regular Season beginning on Saturday, January 19.”

No official word yet on the Caps’ season opener.

“The schedule has changed a lot already,” McPhee said. “It looked like we were starting with two games on the road and now it looks like we’re starting with three at home, but it might all change tomorrow.

***

Expect defenseman Cam Schilling to be the only training camp call-up from the Bears, other than goaltender Braden Holtby, who’s already skating with the Caps.

“That’s our team,” McPhee said. “There’s no sense bringing in the junior players and that sort of thing because they wouldn’t be able to make our team right now anyway.”

Sorry, Tom Wilson.

***

Tom Poti, the 35-year-old defenseman who hasn’t played since Jan. 12, 2011 with a groin injury and fractured pelvis, plans on being at training camp and hopes to be cleared to skate.

“It’s good news and good for him that he’s put all the work in. I don’t know if he’s going to be able to play. If he can, that’d be great,” McPhee said. “I think it’s a bit of a long shot, but if he can play, that’d be terrific. We wouldn’t have any cap issues or anything like that, so that would be fine if he could do it.”

No cap issues, but Washington would have to find a spot on the roster. Counting Orlov and Poti, the Caps could have 10 defenseman in the mix at camp. They also have Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine, Roman Hamrlik, Jack Hillen and Schilling.

McPhee said the Caps could sent Poti to Hershey to see what he has.