Washington will open the season on January 14th against the Sabers in Buffalo.

Here are five things to keep in mind as the training camp unfolds.

How will the goalkeeping competition develop?

All signs suggest that Ilya Samsonov will be the team’s # 1 goalkeeper to start the season. Henrik Lundqvist is unable to play this season due to a heart condition that almost cemented the 23-year-old Russian’s place on the depth map. A competition is brewing behind Samsonov.

Washington wants to give Vitek Vanecek, who turns 25 this month, a fair shot, but it has also signed 39-year-old Craig Anderson. Anderson, who has spent the last 10 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, is trying to play an 18th season in the NHL.

Teams must have three goalkeepers on their squad as part of the league’s coronavirus protocols. Pheonix Copley, who spent last season in the American Hockey League, and Zach Fucale, who spent last season in the lower ECHL, are also expected to attend the training camp.

“We have faith in them to go to camp and fight a little,” said Laviolette of his goalkeeping group. “I think adding a man like Anderson, much like we talk about Henrik: he’s coming to a new organization and [has] to prove something and fight for a place and fight for the crease. I love that. I think it’s going to be a really good fight with the players that are here and there and then add a man like Anderson. “

What will the defensive pairings look like?

The capitals were expected to have a crowded blue line going into the training camp, and it got more complicated with the addition of Chara. In Washington, there are nine defenders with one-way contracts available at the beginning of the season: Dmitry Orlov, Justin Schultz, Jonas Siegenthaler, Nick Jensen, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Paul LaDue, Brenden Dillon, Carlson and Chara. The capitals also have Martin Fehervary, who played in six NHL games last season.

The way Laviolette and assistant Kevin McCarthy, who will be in charge of defenders, manage pairings and taxi drivers will be something to watch. Chara’s role remains unclear; On Thursday, he admitted that there are “no guarantees” for playing time.

However, the team’s two best pairings appear to be largely set, with Carlson and Dillon being the first and Orlov and Schultz being the second. The third pairing is wide open. Chara seems like a likely candidate playing on the left, with Jensen or van Riemsdyk on the right. If the capitals are confident that Siegenthaler is sidelined, they could play him there too.

What is the taxi team and how can they help the capitals this season?

Each team is forced to promote four to six additional players with that particular designation. One of these players must be a goalkeeper unless there are already three on the 23-man roster. These taxi drivers can train with the NHL team. Traditionally, non-rustlers are not allowed to train with the team during the season. Instead, they play and practice with their AHL teams.

The taxi team was set up to help with problems with the coronavirus. With quarantine logs, the NHL needed a way to get more players available to teams in a timely manner.

“It’s going to be a highly competitive sprint until the end and that can usually wear the team a bit away. I think the taxi team will be a big part and an integral part of any team’s success.” Said Laviolette. “It will be very important to get out of the taxi squad and contribute to the big club.”

Decisions about members of the taxi squad are made during the training camp.

How will Laviolette run a training camp and implement its new system?

Laviolette will split the team into two groups at the beginning of the camp. Laviolette said that both groups will be given the same information and will do the same for the duration of the camp, but he said it is important “to get to a group of people who we believe will be here to.” to start the season and start letting them work together as a team. “

Without pre-season games, Laviolette has planned two scrimmages. Laviolette said it was crucial for players to understand most of the pros and cons of their system early on.

“It’s time,” he said. “Even though it is a shortened camp, there is still time to put things right. … There is still a lot to be done, but I know everyone is anxious to get back to work. “

Will Ovechkin sign an extension during the training camp?

Ovechkin is entering the final year of his 13-year $ 124 million contract and is expected to have talks with General Manager Brian MacLellan during the camp. The longtime captain of the Capitals has made it clear he plans to stay in Washington for the foreseeable future, and the team has expressed similar interests. Ovechkin told a Russian news agency in the off-season that he could imagine signing between two and five years.

“We want Alex to come back and we kept saying we’d talk early in the year and hopefully we’ll get the chance to do so during camp,” MacLellan said in December.

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