The Washington Times - September 25, 2007, 11:59AM

\ There are 31 guys on the roster - 19 forwards, 10 defensemen and the two goalies. Eric Fehr isn’t going to factor into this discussion, so make that 18 forwards and 30 overall. Even if Fehr passed a physical tomorrow, I would harbor serious doubts that he could get in shape and win a roster spot before camp ends.\

\ Getting down to 14 forwards could be simple, but a couple of guys are making it difficult. There are 12 guys on one-way contracts - and Nicklas Backstrom and Tomas Fleischmann have secured the two open spots. Basically, if Dave Steckel, Chris Bourque, Joe Motzko or Jakub Klepis want to make this team, they have to force a guy with a one-way deal out of the team’s plans.\


\ Motzko and Klepis are probably the longest of long shots at this point, and Bourque has probably earned a mid-season call-up but will probably go to Hershey to start the season. This leaves Steckel, who had a very nice game in Tampa the other night. One reason he might make the team - he can kill penalties. Coach Hanlon called him “an NHL [penalty] killer” yesterday and included him in a group of eight guys who could be called upon to do it this season. Another reason would be roster flexibility (or Flash insurance as I’d call it).\

\ If he looks like he can play with Boyd Gordon and Matt Pettinger (consider that a roster spoiler for this evening) then Hanlon can move Chris Clark to the first line and Steckel into his spot on a night when Flash might be struggling. It comes down to not only Steckel proving he deserves to make the team over someone like Brooks Laich, Ben Clymer or Matt Bradley, but that his play warrants enough minutes to continue his development at the NHL level. He could also be sent to Hershey and be the first injury call-up.\

\ The blue line is a lot less clear. Jame Pollack is a long shot, but the other nine guys can make a case for being in the opening night seven. The top four (Poti, Potheir, Morrisonn and Jurcina) are set, but 5-6-7 could go in any number of directions. Mike Green and Jeff Schultz are the only two on two-way deals, so that’s the simple scenario (and ultimately why I think Schultz is probably No. 9 in the group). But Green is having an excellent camp, which will make it tough to send him to Hershey. To keep him, someone else has to be traded or pass through waivers. John Erskine made it through waivers last year, but would he again? Josef Boumedienne might make it through, but he’s also had a nice camp and might have a leg up (more on that in a second). Steve Eminger is not making it through the waiver process (and he is healthy enough to make his preseason debut tonight).\

\ Part of this comes down to special teams. Erskine’s biggest advantage is he’s an excellent penalty killer. If Hanlon wants to roll two power play units and not use any of his top-six forwards on one of the points (though Flash was there against the Lightning when they scored a shorthanded goal), then he needs four power play defensemen. Poti and Pothier are probably two, and I would venture that Boumedienne might be the third and either Green or Eminger (though Hanlon did not include him in the discussion yesterday) would be the fourth. Very little is clear on the blue line, save for this being an important week for Eminger.\

\ — Corey Masisak