According to multiple reports, the Washington Capitals today — as expected and hinted at by GM George McPhee at the start of training camp, placed defenseman Tom Poti on the Long-Term Injured Reserve. The team also designated defenseman John Erskine, who did not play in a pre-season game, as an injured non-roster player, leaving the Caps with six healthy defenseman on the roster — for now.
Poti, 34, still has yet to begin skating with the team as he continues to suffer from a recurring groin muscle injury and failed the team’s physical in September. At the start of training camp, McPhee said, “I’m right where I was last year,” regarding the prospect of Poti returning for the 2011-12 season. “I was concerned about whether he would be able to play again. That’s why we went out and signed [Roman] Hamrlik. I didn’t want to be short.”
At one time a valuable puck-moving defenseman, it seems that Poti’s career is in serious jeopardy. With Poti on LTIR, the Caps gain significant relief against the NHL salary cap.
Erskine, 31, is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. He’s been limited in practice to mostly non-contact drills and conditioning. McPhee indicated in camp that the rugged Erskine might not make the active roster at the start of the season, but he did not believe Erskine’s recovery would linger too long into the season.
With Erskine removed from the roster, it would appear that there is room for a defenseman to be recalled if the team wants to carry seven defensemen, which has been fairly standard during coach Bruce Boudreau’s tenure. Dmitry Orlov, who was one of the final cuts earlier this week, or veteran Sean Collins seem to be the most likely choices to return to the Caps from AHL Hershey.