Capitals 2022-23 Training Camp Roster Breakdown & Predictions

It’s official: the Washington Capitals have returned to the ice with a 68-player roster for training camp, which kicked off on Thursday [Sept. 22] at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. In the aftermath of a quiet summer in D.C., head coach Peter Laviolette and his players reconvene with major questions to address.

Washington Capitals Training Camp Roster Breakdown & Predictions Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson
Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson (The Hockey Writers)

Washington’s training camp features a bumper squad of 42 forwards, 20 defencemen, and six goaltenders, including the injured Nicklas Backstrom, Carl Hagelin, Tom Wilson, and Alex Alexeyev. Preseason will last roll on for just under three weeks, with the regular-season starting at Capital One Arena next month.

Washington Capitals: 2022-23 Training Camp Roster

Laviolette’s preliminary roster showcases 18 players who attended rookie camp, including the highly-rated Hendrix Lapierre and Vincent Iorio. Darcy Kuemper, Connor Brown, and Dylan Strome, the club’s key summer acquisitions, will also practice with their new teammates in a formal setting for the first time.

Lapierre, as you might expect from a player who scored on his major league debut, has his sights set on claiming a roster spot with the Capitals.

“You can’t arrive at camp and not have the mentality of making that team,” the 20-year-old said. “You’ve got to be a confident player and, as I’ve said before, I think I’ve put myself in the situation to have success with what I’ve done this summer.

“It’s been in my head ever since I got eliminated last year from the [Quebec Major Junior Hockey League] and it’s still in my head and it’s go time so I just said I’ll be ready. Whatever happens, happens but I don’t want to have any regrets kind of like last year and just play my game, see what happens.”

Hendrix Lapierre, Washington Capitals
Hendrix Lapierre, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Lapierre is one of many players hoping to make an impact at training camp, with the Capitals retaining the core that was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last term. Preseason will provide the backdrop for a series of fascinating internal battles, as a result. Here are the two most important duels that will be played out in the weeks ahead.

Top-6 Battle Headlines Capitals’ Training Camp

Washington’s injury situation heading into the new season has been well-documented. Wilson and Backstrom are out, paving the way for a new duo to fill their skates. Brown and Strome start training camp as clear favourites to occupy those roles but face competition from lower down the roster.

Connor McMichael is a player worth watching. He recorded 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 68 appearances last season and is hungry to make more of an impact in the offensive zone. Fortunately for the 21-year-old, he has the backing of his general manager.

“I think Connor’s going to come in and he’s going to be better than he was last year,” general manager Brian MacLellan explained this summer. “I mean, he’s probably a year ahead of schedule. He came into the American [Hockey] League a year early because of COVID. We like where he’s at, we think he’s going to be a good player and he’s going to make some strides this year. We can play him at [centre or on the wing].”

Connor McMichael Washington Capitals
Connor McMichael, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

With that said, McMichael should figure in the top-six conversation at some point this season – especially if he returns to his natural position through the middle of the ice. He is only two campaigns removed from notching 102 points (47 goals, 55 assists) in 52 Ontario Hockey League appearances for the London Knights and was recently listed as a breakout candidate by ESPN. If the Scarborough-born forward makes a fast start to training camp, he could challenge Brown and Strome for top-six minutes.

However, there is also a world where McMichael fails to clinch a more offensive role and renews his battle with Lars Eller over the third-line centre position instead. It’s a situation to take stock of as preseason advances.

Capitals’ Training Camp Features Blueline Battle

Washington made several defensive acquisitions this summer, which should create an intense fight for ice time at the bottom of the roster. Erik Gustafsson and Gabriel Carlsson are new arrivals, with Matt Irwin signing a contract extension and Lucas Johansen attempting to break into the NHL ahead of his age-24 season. After a positive season in the Western Hockey League (WHL), Iorio is a dark horse candidate to crack the roster, with Alexeyev on the outside looking in as his injury rehabilitation continues.

Related: 3 Capitals Storylines to Follow in 2022-23

There is a huge logjam in left defence, with Irwin, Gustafsson, Carlsson, Johansen, and Alexeyev competing to play alongside right-handed blueliner Trevor van Riemsdyk on the third pair. It’ll be a spicy battle to monitor throughout camp.

Capitals 2022-23 Projected Lineup and Summary

Forwards:

Alex OvechkinEvgeny KuznetsovT.J. Oshie
Anthony ManthaDylan StromeConnor Brown
Marcus JohanssonConnor McMichaelConnor Sheary
Axel Jonsson FjällbyLars EllerNick Dowd

Defencemen:

Martin FehérváryJohn Carlson
Dmitri OrlovNick Jensen
Erik GustafssonTrevor van Riemsdyk

Netminders:

Darcy Kuemper
Charlie Lindgren


Washington starts preseason at Capital One Arena on Sept. 25 versus the Buffalo Sabres, with five more exhibitions in the pipeline before they host the Boston Bruins to open the season on Oct. 12. Until then, the Capitals will be sharpening their skills and raising their fitness levels at training camp. Finally, the offseason is done. It’s playtime.


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