Will it be Evgeny Kuznetsov, the natural center from Russia entering his first full NHL season? Or Andre Burakovsky, the summer experiment rising through the ranks? Or Marcus Johansson, shuttled to the wing Sunday to offer Laich a crack? Or even Laich, who after scoring an empty-netter and shaking off a knee injury said he, all along, considered himself best in the middle?
Per CSN Washington, today at practice it was Burakovsy centering the second line between Laich and Troy Brouwer, with Kuznetsov between Jason Chimera and Joel Ward on the third line. Johansson, meanwhile, was stuck playing left wing on the fourth line, centered by Michal Latta, with Chris Brown on the right side.
The problem for the Caps: not one of the four 2c candidates is ideally suited for the all-important position. Burakovsky and Kuznetsov are still young and learning, while Laich is 31 years old, his best days perhaps behind him. Johansson, obviously, hasn’t done much to impress new coach Barry Trotz.
The Caps play Wednesday in Buffalo, then conclude their preseason Thursday and Sunday with home games against Philadelphia and Carolina, respectively.
“We’ve got three games left here, so we really need to finalize what we’re going to do,” said Trotz.