Saturday, October 04, 2008

One left...and work to do

And we’re down to one. One preseason game, Sunday afternoon against the Boston Bruins. The score is almost immaterial to the matter (heathen!) of the roster decisions that have yet to be made. At the moment, the Caps have 16 forwards. One would think that the club will keep 14. The two players who might have been thought of as on the outside looking in are Chris Bourque and Quintin Laing. Chris Bourque has made the decision to send him back down to Hershey a difficult one with his play (2-3-5, +2 in five games). Laing is one of those heart and soul guys who pours every bit of the talent he has into the aspects of the game that don’t show up on SportsCenter – blocking shots, pestering opponents, and the like.

On defense, there is something of a mystery unfolding. Assuming the club keeps seven defensemen. The roster might be set. That would mean that prospect Karl Alzner, fresh out of Canadian junior, has made the club. But it would not seem likely that he would be in a position to command regular playing time, that he would be the seventh defenseman on this roster. Whether that is a good idea for his development is a matter for the Caps’ brain trust to ponder.

But let’s suppose that the 14 forwards and seven defensemen are as follows…

Centers: Backstrom, Fedorov, Nylander, Steckel, B. Gordon

Wingers: Ovechkin, Kozlov, Semin, Laich, Clark, Fleischmann, Bradley, Brashear, Fehr

Defensemen: Poti, Schultz, Green, Morrisonn, Erskine, Jurcina, Alzner

Goaltenders: Theodore, Johnson

With that roster, the Caps are still over the salary cap by what looks like about $942,000. That problem could be solved by sending Alzner to Hershey and carrying six defensemen (something of a luxury with Hershey only a couple of hours up the road), with Sergei Fedorov serving as what amounts to an “emergency” defenseman. Or perhaps a forward could be moved to free up a spot for the relatively cheap ($625,000 cap hit) Bourque. But that would mean moving a player who has a cap hit of a million or more in excess of Bourque’s cap hit, and that narrows the candidates severely.

There is a game tomorrow, but when that is over, there is still work to be done before opening night…