The Washington Capitals, along with all 29 other NHL teams, have until 5 p.m. Monday to trim their roster to the 23-man maximum, and they inched closer to that number Sunday, releasing four players from their training camp roster.
Forward Dane Byers as well as defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Michal Cajkovsky will all report to the Capitals' AHL affiliate in Hershey, while forward Joel Rechlicz will join them if he clears waivers by noon Monday.
Orlov and Cajkovsky's departure leaves seven defensemen on Washington's roster, leaving Connor Carrick, the Capitals' fifth-round draft pick in 2012, as the team's seventh defenseman for the time being. Carrick, who impressed general manager George McPhee and head coach Adam Oates enough to earn an entry-level contract last week, led all Capitals defensemen with five points in five preseason games. Considering Oates' preference to place his players on their strong side, Carrick, a right-handed defenseman, will push Steve Oleksy for playing time.
(Another possibility: Defenseman Tyson Strachan, who required waivers, cleared Sunday afternoon and will report to Hershey. With teams having little to no room to claim players as they whittle down their own rosters, the Capitals sent him to the AHL with less risk. Now that re-entry waivers no longer exist, Washington can now safely recall Strachan and assign Carrick, who's waiver exempt and carries a cap hit nearly $100,000 more than Strachan's, to Hershey. Just a thought.)
Meanwhile, 15 forwards remain, including Tom Wilson, the 16th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft and Carrick's teammate with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. Wilson's future has been the focal point of training camp; because of his age and the fact that he was drafted out of juniors, the 19-year-old Wilson must either stick with the Capitals or be sent back to Plymouth, where he must stay for the rest of the Whalers' season.
Throughout the preseason, Wilson has proven with both his hands and fists that he can handle himself in the NHL, and Oates has made it clear that the 6'4", 217-pounder is beyond juniors. Where things get complicated, however, is that Washington does not have enough room under the salary cap to simply place Wilson on the team without making a corresponding move.
McPhee admitted as much last week, telling reporters during the team's media day that the Capitals will "probably have to move one player" in order to fit Wilson in.
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.