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Caps Start Seven-Game Exhibition Slate in Newark

Washington takes to the road to face fellow Metropolitan Division denizen New Jersey in the 2017 preseason opener for both clubs.

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / Monumental Sports Network

September 18 vs. New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center

Time: 7:00 p.m. 

TV: CSN

Radio: 1500 AM and Capitals Radio 24/7

Washington's seven-game exhibition slate starts off on Monday night in Newark when the Caps visit the New Jersey Devils. The game is the first of four contests in six nights for the Capitals, and the first of four preseason games against fellow Metropolitan Division foes. The Caps will entertain the Devils at Capital One Arena on Wed. Sept. 27.

After going through the last two seasons with primarily a set and mostly healthy lineup, and after posting the league's best regular season record in both of those campaigns, salary cap constraints have broken up the Capitals team that finished last season with 118 points. For the first time in a few autumns, the Caps will undergo some roster turnover, and they have some jockeying for jobs to keep an eye on as camp wears on.

"I think where we are right now is a very exciting time with the young guys with a lot of opportunity," says veteran Caps defenseman John Carlson. "There hasn't been much of any competition in a couple of years, which was good; it meant we were fielding what you would consider a great team from day one. But I think it will energize us. It's a good change of pace and there are great players there to fill those spots, or else I wouldn't be saying that."
Video: Carlson on #CapsCamp Day One
There are probably four forward slots and two blueline berths up for grabs as the Caps set off on their first preseason foray against the Devils, and even the team's veterans are excited to see how it will all play out over the next couple of weeks.

"There's definitely a little bit of energy there," says Caps right wing T. J. Oshie. "You see them out there in testing and in practice and there's some guys out there who can really move. It's fun and I'm really excited to get into that first preseason game and whenever I play or whenever I'm able to watch and just see what we've got.

"I feel like in the past you didn't pay that much attention to it because we kind of had our guys and there was maybe one spot if there was a big surprise, but we kind of already knew what was going to happen. This year I don't know what's going to happen - I don't know what exact guys to look out for - so I'm excited. I'm excited like everyone else is to see how the young guys do and I'm excited to see how the older guys, how everyone's training was and how everyone responded this summer." 
Video: Caps 365 | September 17
For Monday's preseason opener against the Devils, the Caps are slated to have several of those young hopefuls in the lineup. Carlson and Taylor Chorney are the only defensemen from last season's roster who are suiting up on Monday in Newark; the other four rearguards are all hoping to land one of two open spots on the Washington blueline. Veteran pro Aaron Ness and rookies Christian Djoos, Lucas Johansen and Tyler Lewington are expected to suit up on Monday in Newark as well. 

Up front, Washington will have five young roster hopefuls - Riley Barber, Travis Boyd, Tyler Graovac, Chandler Stephenson and Nathan Walker - and PTO winger Alex Chiasson in the lineup on Monday as well as a few other prospects whose expected ETA in the NHL is more reasonably projected as sometime beyond this season. All four Washington lines will feature at least one player who is battling for one of those available roster spots in Monday's opener. 
Video: Rinkside Update | Nathan Walker
"Really the first two [preseason] games for me," begins Caps coach Barry Trotz, "is seeing some prospects play, and a lot of young defensemen. You're required to have eight veterans [in NHL preseason games]. We will have eight veterans; I don't think [we will have] a whole lot more than that.

"It's the opportunity for some young guys - and also for the organization's scouts - to see where those guys are. And also for the player to show that they're having some progress and to have that experience, all those things. 

"As we go along, you'll see that the number of veterans will obviously increase. I really look at the last three to four game as being where the building has to happen, in practice leading up to those games and then in those games."
Video: Barry Trotz | September 17
Monday's game is also the first of the preseason for the Devils. For the first time since 1979 when the franchise was based in Denver and known as the Colorado Rockies, the Devils had the first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. New Jersey chose center Nico Hischier, and the 18-year-old Swiss pivot will make his preseason debut in the league in Monday's game. 

New Jersey finished last season with the league's third worst record, and its total of 70 points is the franchise's lowest over a non-lockout season since it managed only 66 points in 80 games back in 1988-89. The Devils last made the playoffs in 2011-12 when they advanced to the Stanley Cup final before bowing to the Los Angeles Kings. New Jersey is heading into its third season under the leadership of general manager Ray Shero and coach John Hynes in 2017-18.
Video: Wilson talks with the media from #CapsCamp
Ex-Caps forward Marcus Johansson is expected to don a Devils sweater for the first time on Monday, centering New Jersey's top line with wingers Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall. Veteran Devils center Travis Zajac usually mans the middle of that unit, but he suffered a torn left pectoral muscle while lifting weights last month and will be sidelined 4-6 months as a result.

Now in mid-rebuild, the Devils have started to amass some young talent up front, led by Hischier and 2014 first rounder John Quenneville. Quenneville is also expected to suit up on Monday, and could find himself on a line with Hischier. The Devils are expected to dress goaltenders Keith Kincaid and Scott Wedgewood on Monday against Washington.

#CapsDevils Game Notes (from Capitals PR):

STARTING IT OFF - The Capitals begin the preseason Monday against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. Washington will play seven games this preseason, with four away games. Washington has played four road games in each of the last five preseasons. Since 2015-16, the Capitals are 4-1-3 away in preseason games. In addition, the Capitals have won 50 away games over the last two seasons, the second most in the NHL.

DEVIL HUNTERS - The Capitals will play the Devils in the preseason for the first time since 2008 (9/29/08). Washington posted a 3-0-1 record against New Jersey during the 2016-17 regular season and is 105-74-13-14 against the Devils all-time. CAPS CONNECTIONS - John Carlson was raised in Colonia, NJ. Drafted with Washington's 27th-overall pick in the 2008 draft, Carlson has recorded 265 points (62 goals, 203 assists) in 526 games with the Capitals, ranking eighth in franchise history in points among defensemen. Additionally, Carlson is eighth among all players in his draft class in points. In 27 career games against New Jersey, Carlson has recorded 16 points (3 goals,13 assists), including an overtime goal (3/25/16).

HOME GROWN - In total, 14 players selected by Washington in the NHL draft are in the lineup for Washington on Monday, including the Capitals most recent first round pick, Lucas Johansen. Johansen was drafted by the Capitals in the first round, 28th overall, in the 2016 NHL Draft. Johansen registered 41 points (6 goals, 35 assists) in 68 games with the Kelowna Rockets (WHL) last season. He co-led Kelowna blueliners in goals and was second among Kelowna defensemen in assists and points in 2016-17. In 202 career games with Kelowna, Johansen recorded 98 points (17 goals, 81 assists) and 75 penalty minutes and won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as the WHL Champion in 2015.

BEAR SCORERS - Two of the Hershey Bears top-three scorers will be in the lineup against New Jersey. Travis Boyd led Hershey in assists (47) and points (63). Selected with Washington's sixth round pick, 177th-overall, in the 2011 NHL Draft, Boyd was named to the AHL's second All Star team. In 154 AHL games, Boyd has recorded 37 goals and 79 assists. Christian Djoos finished third on the Bears in points with 58 (13 goals, 45 assists). Selected with Washington's seventh round pick in 2012, Djoos led all AHL defensemen in assists and was named the AHL's Player of the Month in March.

FROM THE LAND DOWN UNDER - Capitals prospect Nathan Walker is from Sydney, Australia. He was drafted by Washington in the third round, 89th overall, in the 2014 NHL Draft and is the first player in NHL history to be drafted from Australia. He has represented Australia at the 2011 IIHF World Championship Division II tournament and at the 2012 World Championship Division 1 Group B tournament. 

WASHINGTON CAPITALS ROSTER

Forwards

18 STEPHENSON Chandler

20 ELLER, Lars

24 BARBER, Riley

39 CHIASSON, Alex

47 MALENSTYN, Beck

65 BURAKOVSKY, Andre

71 ELGESTAL, Kevin

72 BOYD, Travis

77 OSHIE, T.J.

79 WALKER, Nathan

91 GRAOVAC, Tyler

93 SIMPSON, Mark

94 RIAT, Damien

Defensemen

4 CHORNEY, Taylor

21 JOHANSEN, Lucas

29 DJOOS, Christian

53 LABRIE, Hubert

55 NESS, Aaron

74 CARLSON, John

78 LEWINGTON, Tyler

Goaltenders

41 VANECEK, Vitek

70 HOLTBY, Braden

81 CARLSON, Adam

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