Caps training camp cuts: Who and why?
If Barry Trotz gets his way, the Caps will have 25 players on their roster by Friday. This target number will include eight defensemen, 15 forwards, and 2 goalies. Some cuts are more surprising than others, with waivers playing a role in Trotz’s decisions.
Last season, the Caps lacked a true fourth defenseman, and the bottom pairing was typically an amalgam of rookies. This time around, the issue is how Trotz will construct all three pairings, given the rich talent available and competition for the sixth, seventh, and eighth blueline slots.
Let’s take a look at some of the most notable cuts, all of which are defensemen.
After four seasons with the Miami RedHawks, Schilling was targeted by several NHL teams. Yet he signed with the Caps in 2012 and inked an extension this summer. He’s one of the few defensive defensemen in the Caps’ system and has played in only one NHL game. Schilling is hardly a top prospect, yet he shows promise.
The 25-year-old may be a target for a claim by another NHL club. Sending him at this point of the preseason, when NHL rosters are full and depth charts deep, may reduce the chances of a waiver claim.
Expect Schilling to spend the majority of his upcoming season in Hershey, where strong play could earn him a call-up to D.C. However, he must clear waivers to resume play with the Bears. Given the number of Schilling’s previous suitors, however, it’s unlikely that he’d make the cut later in the season, especially when teams are adjusting their defensive cores and must cope with injuries.
Copley’s strong training camp earned him two games in the Caps’ preseason. The first was the Caps’ preseason opener, a 1-0 win over the Sabres. Copley stopped all six shots he faced before his next outing, the first of the Caps’ back-to-back matchups with the Bruins. The game ended in a 2-0 loss for the Caps, and Copley allowed one of nine shots.
Before training camp, Copley was expected to compete for the starting job with the Caps’ ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays. But an injury to Eddie Pasquale, the projected backup for Philipp Grubauer, may give Copley to chance to compete for the backup job. However, it’s also possible that both goalies see time in both the AHL and ECHL throughout the season.
Though consistently ranked one of the Caps’ top prospects, Bowey was a long shot to make the roster. He didn’t survive the first round of cuts and will foreseeably spend the upcoming season with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, where he’ll enter his second year of captaincy.
Bowey needs additional seasoning before he’s ready to compete for an AHL or NHL job, an assessment he believes accurate. But his strong performance at rookie camp was indicative of his development. He and Christian Djoos were regular partners on the top pairing, and he saw his share of power-play time. One highlight was a wicked pass during the Fan Fest scrimmage–one example of the types of plays Bowey hopes to make.
Since his return to Kelowna, Bowey has made his presence known. He notched three power-play assists, helping guide the Rockets to a 8-2 win. Should the Rockets bow out of the playoffs early, Bowey could see time with the Bears. He’ll turn 20 in late April, a milestone and exemption from the CHL-NHL agreement.