Caps To Have Open Competition At Center

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins

The biggest hole in the Capitals lineup, which has been a revolving door for the last few seasons, is currently the the second-line center position.

According to a source from Caps management (who I spoke to in late July, and again earlier this week), Barry Trotz will have an open competition for the second-line center position. The Capitals coaching staff is going into training camp without any preference or opinion on who will be the second-line center, and will let them play it out (barring a trade for a proven second-line center).

The source said that the second-line center position will be given to the player who works the hardest and performs the best in training camp (pretty obvious).

According to another league source, the Capitals will have about five players in consideration for both their second and third-line center positions come training camp. Barring a trade, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Brooks Laich will all be in consideration to fill the second and third-line center positions. Also, Chandler Stephenson will be given an outside chance to fight for the third-line center position.

Two or three of the five players competing at the center position will be eventually moved to the wing in a top-nine scoring role. Both Burakovsky and Kuznetsov have spent the majority of their careers as wingers, but, the Caps would like to experiment with both of them at center as well. Over the last few seasons, both Johansson and Laich have displayed the versatility to play down the middle or on the wing.

For Burakovsky, he will either be playing in Washington as a top-six/nine player, or in Hershey as a top-liner. In the case of Chandler Stephenson, he seems to have an NHL future if he continues to develop, but, at this point he is a long-shot to make the roster out of training camp (he needs some time in the AHL and the Caps have a lot of forwards).


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