With Mike Green, Karl Alzner and John Carlson, the Washington Capitals boast one of the League's most solid defensive foundations. While those three figure to be integral pieces of the franchise for the foreseeable future, the defensive depth behind them, although plentiful, is more tenuous.
The Capitals opened training camp on Thursday with 10 defensemen who appeared in an NHL game last season, nine of whom suited up for Washington. Injuries forced the Capitals to use 12 defensemen throughout the season, second-most League-wide, and kept the fourth, fifth and sixth defensive positions in a constant state of flux.
Defense - WSH
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 26
SOG: 96 | +/-: -3
Things eventually settled down in the latter stages of the season, as veterans John Erskine
and Jack Hillen
, as well as journeyman Steve Oleksy
, wound up as the bottom half of the Capitals' defensive corps. According to coach Adam Oates
, that is how it will remain at the beginning of the season.
"I'm not in a big believer in, 'It's open competition.' I'm not," Oates said. "The guy who was there was there for a reason. And I'm not going to put pressure on him in a two-week window to lose his job."