The Capitals have placed veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik on waivers, the organization confirmed on Tuesday. The news was first reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Hamrlik, 39, is in the second year of a two-year, $7 million contract that has an annual salary-cap hit of $3.5 million. He has appeared in just four games this season out of 20 and was scheduled to be a healthy scratch again tonight when Washington hosts the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center.

The move temporarily alleviates a roster crunch. The Caps signed and then recalled defenseman Steve Oleksy from AHL Hershey on Monday. That left nine defensemen on the roster, including injured defenseman Mike Green (groin). Green was placed on injured reserve this morning and is eligible to return retroactively on March 7. He last played Wednesday in a 4-1 loss at Philadelphia. With Hamrlik’s expected departure – the other 29 NHL clubs can claim the remaining portion of his contract in a 24-hour window that ends on Wednesday at noon – Washington is back down to seven active defensemen.

But that number doesn’t even include defenseman Jack Hillen (shoulder), who remains on injured reserve and is still working his way back from an injury suffered Jan. 19 in the season-opener at Tampa Bay. He has been skating for weeks, but has not yet been cleared for contact.

Hamrlik is in his 20th NHL season. The Czech Republic native has also played for Tampa Bay, the New York Islanders, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal. He was a healthy scratch in eight games last February and March and was the product of trade speculation at the deadline last year. But Hamrlik forced his way back into the lineup and appeared in all 14 Stanley Cup playoff games. He played in the first three games of this lockout-shortened season, was scratched the next seven and played one more time on Feb. 7 in Pittsburgh.

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