Roman Hamrlik hasn't gotten a chance to contribute much for the Washington Capitals this season, and it's not likely that he would have anytime soon, so the team put the defenseman on waivers Tuesday.
"We're trying to do the right thing, and depending on what happens, nothing might change," coach Adam Oates said. "He might be here tomorrow. And if he goes somewhere, good for him. Good luck."
Hamrlik will find out at noon Wednesday whether he's going to another NHL team or staying with the Caps. The 38-year-old has played just four games this year, a healthy scratch for the past 11.
"Obviously depth-wise we got a lot of defensemen and he hasn't played in a long time, and quite honestly he's been great about it," Oates said. "He just hasn't had his chance and we haven't had injuries back there that he's got his opportunity. It's been a long time and give him a chance to play. He's been professional."
Hamrlik, a veteran of 1,383 games, is in the final season of a two-year, $7 million contract. If he is claimed, that team is responsible for his $3.5 million cap hit and his remaining, prorated salary.
Given Hamrlik's experience, it's possible he's rescued from Washington, where he has played a total of 52 minutes and 23 seconds all season.
"He still feels he can play, and he can play," Oates said. "It's been a numbers game here, and that's all it is."
Oates has preached having balance on defense: one left-handed shot and one right-handed shot on each pairing. That prompted the recall of Tomas Kundratek and the signing and recall of Steve Oleksy.
The logjam of lefty defensemen forced Jeff Schultz into healthy-scratch duty Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins and pushed Hamrlik to the waiver wire. With Tom Poti playing well, the Caps haven't had an opportunity to give Hamrlik any action since Feb. 7.
"There really hasn't been one," Oates said. "And in fairness, what I told him is: 'You have a bad night, everybody has a bad night.' And I wouldn't evaluate him on one bad night because that's not fair to anybody. But since the last few weeks we've played much better hockey, so you can't take a guy out of the lineup for one game."
If Hamrlik clears waivers, Oates said he'll remain with the team instead of being assigned to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. There's little benefit in sending Hamrlik to Hershey because the Caps would get just $100,000 of salary cap relief by doing so.
Brouwer sick; Wolski back in
Right wing Troy Brouwer missed Tuesday's game against the Bruins because of an illness. Through 20 games, Brouwer was the Caps' leading goal-scorer with nine.
Left wing Wojtek Wolski replaced Brouwer in the lineup against Boston. Wolski was a healthy scratch Saturday at the Winnipeg Jets.
"I thought if anything, I think maybe being a little snake-bit is affecting some of his decisions and play," Oates said of Wolski last week. "He's got to take a step back and just regroup, and he's one of the guys with a little bit of execution I need more of."
Forward Marcus Johansson took a test to be cleared for contact Tuesday as he tries to return from an upper-body injury. Being able to get bumped in practice is the logical next step after missing the past 10 games.
"Just been skating now, as much as I'm supposed to," Johansson said. "I've been skating hard but no contact so far. We'll see tomorrow what happens and real excited to play again and hopefully it will be over soon."
In addition to skating with teammates, Johansson has been working with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. He reported feeling good but knows he can't rush back.
"[With] what's going on I need to be 100 percent to play, there's no doubt about it," Johansson said. "Right now I'm getting there and it's been better and better every day."
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