The Washington Capitals have made their first cuts of the 2023-2024 training period, narrowing the group of players from 63 to 51. Four players will return to their junior teams, while eight will be sent to the Hershey Bears, Washington’s AHL affiliate. The players being sent to juniors are as follows: Brett Hyland (Brandon Wheat Kings), Jake Karabela (Guelph Storm), Patrick Thomas (Brantford Bulldogs), and Antoine Keller (Acadie-Bathurst Titan). The Hershey Bears will be chasing a Calder Cup repeat with the help of forwards Jimmy Huntington, Julian Napravnik, Garrett Roe, Matthew Strome (yes– Dylan’s younger brother!), and Mike Vecchione, along with defensemen Michael Kim, Benton Maass, and Colin Swoyer. None of the released players are on NHL contracts, so they will not require waivers. The Bears’ training camp is set to begin on October 2nd, and the regular season on October 14th.
The Capitals released an updated training camp roster after the cuts were announced. Andrew Cristall and Alexander Suzdalev remain on the roster but are still eligible to return to juniors. However, as previously reported, Suzdalev will likely join the AHL this upcoming season. With the first round of cuts made, we saw a preview of Spencer Carbery’s lines, which have been continuously tweaked throughout training camp. The Capitals’ major lines and pairings look like this:
Despite some line and pairing tweaking, the team’s top nine forwards have remained the same throughout training camp. Forwards Mantha, Milano, and Strome played in the Capitals’ first preseason game on Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres. Mantha and Milano teamed up to score the game-tying goal, while Strome served as an alternate captain and centered the top line. Ultimately, the Capitals fell to the Sabres 4-3.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel has not always been on the fourth line but took over Aliaksai Protas’ spot. Protas was moved to an extra line alongside Ivan Miroshnichenko and Matthew Phillips. Aube-Kubel also played in the game against Buffalo and recorded the first goal of the Capitals preseason. Head coach Spencer Carbery noted postgame that he was a player who had an excellent showing. Protas also played against the Sabres but did not contribute offensively.
Another lineup change is seen in the third defensive pairing, where Alex Alexeyev has paired up with Trevor van Riemsdyk. Van Riemsdyk’s original partner, Joel Edmundson, is out with a fractured hand that had to be operated on. He is set to miss 4-6 weeks. Alexeyev skated in this pairing in the game against the Sabres and ended up spending the second most minutes on the ice at 22:30. Trevor van Riemsdyk left the game early after being struck on his right arm but was skating in practice on Tuesday. “Maybe a little worried at first, but no, all good,” the defensemen said.
The Washington Capitals’ next preseason game is on Thursday night against the Red Wings at Capital One Arena. The team will visit the Red Wings in Detroit on Saturday, September 30th.