Caps depth chart: Who's your No. 4 defenseman?

Caps depth chart: Who's your No. 4 defenseman?
July 25, 2013, 10:15 am
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Washington Capitals defenseman John Erskine (4) prepares for a face off against the Philadelphia Flyers at Verizon Center.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

On Wednesday we took a look at the Capitals’ forward line combinations and you gave your opinions.

Some of you believe the production of Eric Fehr will determine who plays where. Some believe Tom Wilson is ready for The Show; others do not. Some think Marcus Johansson is ready for top-line duty; others not so much. And some think Michael Latta is ready to replace Matt Hendricks on the fourth line.

Today, we’ll shed the spotlight on the Capitals defense pairings and goaltending.

Share your thoughts below.

Defense pairings

Karl Alzner [$2.8m] Mike Green [$6.083m]

John Erskine [$1.962m] John Carlson [$3.966m]

Jack Hillen [$700,000] Steve Oleksy [$541,667]

Extra: Tomas Kundratek [$550,000]

Ask fans if they’d rather have a second-line center or a No. 4 defenseman and you’d probably get an even split.

Erskine was a strong, physical presence on the blue line [plus-10] when he was healthy during the regular season, but his lack of mobility was noticeable during the playoffs when he was a minus-4 in seven games.

Some believe Dmitry Orlov [$900,000] is poised to have a breakthrough season and take over as the Caps’ No. 4 defenseman, but head coach Adam Oates said that when training camp begins Orlov will not be in the top six and he’ll have to play his way into the lineup.

After playing alongside John Carlson the past four seasons, Alzner is expected to begin the season with Mike Green as his defense partner. Both are in the prime of their careers, evidenced by their invitations to Canada’s Olympic camp.

Carlson is an excellent second option on the power play and a solid third defenseman, but he’ll need to have the support of a shutdown blue liner. Will that be Erskine or someone else?

Hillen, a left-handed shot, played very well after returning from a shoulder injury last season, but the jury is still out on Oleksy, who will be playing his first full NHL season and will provide some additional toughness on the back end.

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby [$1.85m] Michal Neuvirth [$2.5m]

For the second straight year Holtby enters training camp as the Caps’ No. 1 netminder and the Caps aren’t the only ones who believe in the 23-year-old from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, who on Monday received an invitation to try out for the Canadian Olympic team.

Many believed that with Holtby on the rise the Caps would trade Neuvirth over the summer, but McPhee stuck to his guns, saying he believed the two goalies could co-exist, even though the starter will be making more than his backup.

What’s your take?