Monday, October 6, 2008

Washington Capitals Trim Roster To 22; Ready for Season Opener

Well the Capital's have trimmed their roster for the season opener sending Chris Bourque and Karl Alzner down to Hershey, as well as placing Quintin Laing on waivers with the hope he too clears them and will be assigned to Hershey as well. The Capitals will start the season with a 22 man roster on Friday Night in Atlanta against the Thrashers. The Hershey Bears start their regular season on Wednesday (10/8) against the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins (The Baby Pens) at Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza, in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

The "blogshpere" is now alive with second guessing and criticisms of the moves. These pundits ponder why Alzner is in Hershey instead of either Milan Jurcina and/or John Erskine; they also ponder why Chris Bourque isn't in a Caps Jersey this week instead of one of the other forwards. Interestingly the names I saw on comments to Taril El-Bashear's blog were Semin and/or Fleischman. Perhaps "interestingly" is a bit of a wrong-headed characterization, as regards Semin, I should have said "laughably". Sure, if I was the General Manager, I'd keep the unproven Chris Bourque over a guy who has 192 games of NHL experience and who has scored as many as 38 goals in a season, why not let's put him on waivers and see if Semin clears. I really wish the Caps Ownership would dump GM George McPhee and let the "blogsphere braintrust" manage the team. Given the kind of astute, unemotional comments they make regularly here on the net, time and again, they always give me much more confidence that with them in charge a Stanley Cup would find it's way to the phone-booth so much faster than with the current leadership.

The debate on Bourque vs. "Flash" isn't without some merit on both sides but the fact Bourque is just 22 years old and didn't have to clear waivers while Fleischmann would have had to do so, is a valid reason for making the selection if they felt the choice was close to a toss-up.

Quintin Laing, a mid-season call-up last year, whose shot blocking prowess, and "grit" made him a fan favorite, was also a victim of the extremely deep Capital's talent pool at forward. While I personally would love to see "Q" stay in the Caps system, at 29, after the season he had and the "grit" he displayed last season, for his sake I hope he gets claimed and finds a home in the NHL somewhere. Laing deserves another season in the NHL, but with the "grinders" on the current roster: Gordon, Steckel, Bradley, Brashear and Fehr along with the guys in front of them on the depth chart: Federov, Nylander, Ovechkin, Semin, Clark, Kozlov, Laich and Fleischmann, as well as the presence of Jay Beagle and Chris Bourque in the system mean it is much more likely he'll play somewhere else in the NHL besides, Washington.

The debate on Alzner fails to recognize the salary cap as a reality in the post-lockout NHL. Those making the argument to keep him here in DC also fail to recognize the difference in either his or Sami Lepisto's development pace when playing 22+ minutes a game in Hershey vs. playing 12-16 minutes a game here in DC. They also don't recognize the value of spending some time in the AHL and increasing a young players confidence as a valid reason to not rush things. The argument to keep Jurcina and Erskine in DC includes several points: a) both would need to clear waivers and both would likely be picked up by others for different reasons; b) for the skill level and the minutes they are capable of logging both are "extremely "Cap Friendly"; c) both are mature, big physical players who bring a large amount of "grit" to the roster.

The Caps have a super roster and the starting lineups for the season opener in Atlanta on Friday night as well as the home opener against the Blackhawks on Saturday are simple awesome. I can't wait to Rock The Red on Saturday when the Caps will raise their 2007-2008 Southeast Division Championship to the rafters.



GregO said...

Well written and level-headed post. Thanks you.

GregO said...

* or thank you, whichever you prefer!

usually frustrated caps fan said...

@ grego: Thanks for both compliments; I debated posting this since I usuually don't like to post in the first person or to question others opinioons (I feel we're all entitled to them and to voice them) I just felt some of the banter and comments were driven by emotion more thant they should have been.