Friday, September 25, 2009

Eight will be enough get to the prescribed roster size, that is.

The Caps assigned Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle to Hershey this morning, bringing the Caps to 31 hands on board. There are eight more spots to move to get down to a maximum opening night roster of 23.

Here are the 31 remaining Caps...


8 – Alex Ovechkin
9 – Brendan Morrison
10 – Matt Bradley
14 – Tomas Fleischmann
15 – Boyd Gordon
16 – Eric Fehr
17 – Chris Clark
19 – Nicklas Backstrom
20 – Keith Aucoin
21 – Brooks Laich
22 – Mike Knuble
25 – Brandon Sugden
28 – Alexander Semin
33 – Alexandre Giroux
39 – David Steckel
53 – Quintin Laing
56 – Chris Bourque
92 – Michael Nylander


2 – Brian Pothier
3 – Tom Poti
4 – John Erskine
23 – Milan Jurcina
26 – Shaone Morrisonn
27 – Karl Alzner
52 – Mike Green
55 – Jeff Schultz
62 – Sean Collins
89 – Tyler Sloan


30 – Michael Neuvirth
40 – Semyon Varlamov
60 – Jose Theodore

Of those remaining, one would have to think that the certainties to be sent down to Hershey are Brandon Sugden, Sean Collins, and Keith Aucoin, which gets us to 28... five to go. But after that...well, let's handicap it.


It looks now as if there is one spot, and it remains for Tyler Sloan and Karl Alzner to fight for the right to claim it. Because it is easier to send Alzner to Hershey (not to mention providing more relief on the salary cap), Sloan has the inside track here. Of course, actually playing better hasn't hurt his chances any.

Forwards, Part I:

The complication here is the status of Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann. Their absence has provided players with an opportunity, specifically Alexandre Giroux, to grab a top-six spot. The record-setting goal scorer from Hershey a year ago is one of those mysteries that takes the form of a question, "why in heaven's name can't he score something like that at the NHL level?" We're not asking that he be Ovechkin II, but he just hasn't given any indication that he's really up to the challenge at this level. A top-six slot has been presented to him on a platter, and he seems to have knocked it over. We're thinking he won't have a roster spot with the Caps on opening night.

Forwards, Part II:

Chris Bourque and Quintin Laing appear to be the principals in the last fight for a spot on the bottom half of the forward lines. Both fall under the category of being "energy" players, although they approach the role from different sides of the stage. Bourque is the player whose engine is always running at high RPMs, which is something that looks to leave him out of place in some situations. Laing is one of those "you couldn't get me out of the lineup with a gun and a chair" kinds of players. He'll play through anything and give up his body in any situation imaginable. Bourque might have more upside, but Laing is the kind of guy coaches seem to love. Laing is the favorite here, which brings up the matter of whether Bourque will (as rumored, then denied) be moved.

Forwards, Part III:

You just have the feeling (ok, maybe it's just me) that something is going to happen with respect to Michael Nylander. If he is on the roster on opening night, then it would seem Laing and Bourque have to be moved. And given how Nylander has been used in camp, that's a dead roster spot chewing up almost $5 million in cap room. Something is going to happen, right?



Having two prospects who have played well, both last year and in this camp, complicates what might otherwise be an easy time of it for the Caps' brain trust. If Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth was the alternative to Jose Theodore, you'd just assume Theodore would have the position until the other was ready, and that guy would be the backup. But with two goalies breathing down Theodore's neck, which one do you send to Hershey? Hard call. We'll stick with Varlamov having the slight edge as the "incumbent" of sorts, but if Neuvirth comes up big on Sunday? Well...

From this, we have Karl Alzner, Sean Collins, Keith Aucoin, Brandon Sugden, Alexandre Giroux, Chris Bourque, and Michal Neuvirth as the unlucky seven. It might be eight -- adding Quintin Laing -- if something doesn't break with respect to Michael Nylander.

We're glad we don't make these decisions.