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Aucoin Recalled, Erskine on IR, Gustafsson on Loan

Center Keith Aucoin has been recalled from Hershey and is on the ice for the morning skate. I have to imagine that he's here just in case Boyd Gordon cannot play. Gordon, however, is on the ice right now.

John Erskine, meantime, has been placed on IR with an injured hand he suffered while blocking a shot in the second period against the Devils. Erskine will have to miss the next two games before he is eligible to return.

Also, 2008 first round draft pick Anton Gustafsson has been loaned to Boras HC of the second division in Sweden. Little Gus, it appears, was going to have a tough time cracking the lineup in Hershey. He cannot be recalled by Hershey until after the Swedish season, I'm told.

I'll have more after the skate.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 15, 2009; 10:03 AM ET
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Next: Theodore Expected to Start Against Sharks


Get well soon, sexy lumberjack!

I'd like to see Aucoin get a chance to play ... I bet Aucoin will take less penalties.

Posted by: Cerealman | October 15, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

This is a bad move by management regardless of Gordon playing or not. All it does is put us closer to the salary cap. Nylander could play 3rd line and drop Steckel to 4th if Gordon can't go. This could be a practice move so they see someone busting their a$$ in practice to get them going, but even still its bad for the cap.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Play Aucoin! That guy's a workhorse and I love watching him play. He has speed and drives hard to the puck. I always notice him on the ice. You can always tell he wants it.

Posted by: JD09 | October 15, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I've heard little Gus is not really that fact the Swedish kid we drafted this year is supposed to be much better.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 15, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Does regular IR give us cap relief, or is that just for LTIR?

Posted by: Fro_ | October 15, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Okay, which of the three do you think is a better player in that position and can help the most:

or Nylander?

Posted by: caraveli | October 15, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Anton showed up in a transaction in Yahoo! on Oct.3rd as called up from Hershey, I was wondering what that was for. Obviously it wasn't to play at the NHL level. Really, I was hoping it would be part of a trade (including Nyls)... oh well

Posted by: Chad8 | October 15, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Nylander is the best of the 3 players and Steckel is the best 4th line Center on the team and we have him playing 3rd line. Thats why I suggested playing Nylander at 3rd line and dropping Steckel to 4th line if Gordon can't go.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Nylander is a scoring line center only. Both Gordo and Aucoin are 4th line "energy" guys.

Posted by: koalatek | October 15, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Koalatek, not quite. Aucoin can do both reasonably well (or both reasonably poorly, depending on your point of view). In the A, he can play top 2 lines. He centers Giroux, normallly. In the NHL, he plays the 4th line and is ok with that. I actually think Steckel is a better "4th line" center than Aucoin, so maybee Aucoin centers the third. We'll see.

I heard BB on the radio yesterday and they asked him about Nylander. His response was "well, old coach, old system, new coach, not part of the plan" (or words to that effect). I realize he's not a favorite, but BB basicly reacted as if Nylander was that weird kid that nobody likes who hangs out on the side of the pond waiting to get invited into the game, which is never going to happen.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | October 15, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

It is amazing to me that people are still thinking that Nyls is going to play on this team... LOL... Ice surface in h@ll before that happens. He does not fit in this system. Aucoin will fit nicely. I hope he gets a chance to play. His energy level is maybe just what is needed.

Posted by: jbears1 | October 15, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Agree with "ThePat". If the Caps want consistant scoring from the 3rd line, place Nylander at center, Steckel down to 4th Line and special teams.

4th line centers - Steckel, Gordon or Aucoin. I like them all but there's only one slot.

The Caps continue to push themselves to the salary cap edge.

Posted by: puckman | October 15, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

If the CAPS want a guy to skate beautiful circles on the ice surface, Nyls is just the guy for the 3rd line center.

Posted by: jbears1 | October 15, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse


I understand the fact BB does not like Nylander or doesnt think he fits the system. Fact is that we are up against the cap, so for a game or two you should play him if needed. We aren't going to be able to get rid of him so the cap issue is there. Everytime we call up a player or cntinue to carry 8 defensemen it limits greatly what we will be able to do at the trade deadline. Its a big picture thing I am looking at, not a game or two in October.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget about Steve Eminger when taking about Nylander. Eminger was scratched over 50 times during the regular season, yet started the Game 7 overtime against Philly two springs ago.

Nylander might fit later, you never know.

@lylewimbledon. Someone said Marcus Johansson is better than Gustafsson? Maybe, who knows? Both were later first rounders in different drafts. If last year's draft was deeper, then Johansson could very well be better.

I think we should trust that the Caps' Scouts know what they are doing though. They've proven that.

Posted by: JoeWho | October 15, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Agree with ThePat also.

I also don't think Nyls has been given the opportunity to fit within the system.

Posted by: Grape8 | October 15, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I understand your thinking on Nyls. But to play a guy that does not fit a coach's system and has shown little or no inclination to be able to change his game, is just asking for problems. It won't make Nyls any more tradeable. I think using the slots to find out who you can bring up to help when needed, makes more sense. I still think eventually Nyls pride (assuming there is as much there as one would expect of a former high acheiver) will make him want to PLAY elsewhere.

Posted by: jbears1 | October 15, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"Nyls does not play the Caps system" is a poor excuse of why he's not playing. The big complaint I hear on the blog here is that he circles too much. What the hell do you think the 3rd and 4th lines do along the corner boards in the offensive zone - "CYCLE". WHOLLY ORBITS, he can out cycle any of the 3rd and 4th lines guys. Enough with Nylander can't play BB's system.

The real answer he isn't playing lies somewhere else. Those who know won't speak up and go on the record!

Posted by: puckman | October 15, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Simply, Nylander had his chance. He'll remain in the rafters, while the caps pay continue to pay for the most expensive season ticket in the building.

Cap space right now= 1.16
Aucoin= .5

Posted by: JD09 | October 15, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse


don't question the dude's pride. He is one of the first ones on the ice at practice and often stays long after practice ends working with the strength and conditioning coach and doing other drills. No one is going to take on his contract that is the thing. He is here until the end of the season, unlesshe gets playing time and shows he still has it and we know he's not going to get it. Therefore we are up against the cap all year and can't be calling up guys unnecessarily.

And we bring up the fact that Nyls doesn't fit the system....does anyone think Chris Clark actually fits the system??? In my opinion if he wasn't the captain he'd be getting the same treatment Nylander is.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse


Don't forget that the Verizon Center is is pretty much identical to an ice surface in h@ll, so maybe that's not the best anaolgy.

Posted by: StikSav | October 15, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse


Correct about Eminger (answer to the trivia question "who was the last capital to wear number 8 before OV"), but remember that he also sucked and admitted that he was rusty. Give Nylander a game every week or two just to stay in game shape.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | October 15, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

That reeks of conspiracy theory. I watched Bruce coach in Hershey and have watched him in DC. Bruce is playing the guys that he wants. He is not sitting Nyls due to anyone's opinion other than his.

Posted by: jbears1 | October 15, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

The logic of the Nylander fans:
1. BB says he can't play for this team.
2. Other NHL teams have no interest in trading form him.
3.European teams show no interest in acquiring him.
Therefore, he is the solution to the Caps problems. Play him!

Posted by: zmega | October 15, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

You guys question Bruce about why not play Nyls all the time. I do question Nyls pride. And will continue to. A guy who "is as good as you all think he is" and is prideful, would want to be playing somewhere and would waive the NMC just to be playing and not sitting. If nothing else but to say FU I can still get it done. He is going to get his pay regardless.

Posted by: jbears1 | October 15, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Nyls stunk last year, I'll be the first to admit it. I still think he is 10 times better than Aucoin,even when he stinks. When up against the cap, you do not call a guy up like this unless there is something else going on. That is my whole point. But Bruce has made bad decisions before jut like Nyls has stunk before. Both of them deserve to be criticized.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Okay, here's the irony of the Nylander situation.

The Caps actions are that they have a guy (#92) that's making $5.5 mil this season and he's not able to crack their top 12 line-up but they think they can trade him to NHL team X to fit in their top 6. To make it worst, you haven't even driven the car this year out of the garage for a spin around the block. Nyls moving on is not going to happen in the salary cap era (at least before the trading deadline). To date, the Caps have paid him +/- $400,000 to practice and watch the games.

Posted by: puckman | October 15, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

jbears, word is that nyls was willing to waive his NMC to go the hawks last year. i dont think the NMC is the issue as i suspect nyls would waive that just to be able to play...perhaps with the exception of going to hershey, which i understand. the issue is there is apparantly no one out there who wants him and therefore no reason to ask him to waive the NMC. i have no doubt he's not going to give a blanket waiver...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | October 15, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

But I'd also never question either BB's or Nyls pride. FYI, he waived his NMC last year and the deal fell through. So you can't really use that to question him.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Ok...Nylander is not going to play for this team...let's stop the specualtion of putting him in a line.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 15, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

People- he did not even get in a preseason game - hello?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 15, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Pretty sure no player can unilaterally "waive" a provision of his contract (e.g., NMC). The NHLPA would have a fit and probably file some kind of action.

Posted by: capsfan77 | October 15, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

a more valid analysis would be that he's not one of our top 4 centers but could be someone's number 2 center. that's entirely possible. particularly since his NMC expires at the end of this year. some teams might take a chance on him and offload someone they might not have a need for but would work well for us. if the rags can trage gomez and his bloated contract, anything is possible.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | October 15, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I wish the people in charge would just come out and explain what really happened and what's really going on with Nylander. This whole situation is like a dark cloud hovering above the team. They should just set the record straight and end all the pointless speculation.

Posted by: hillg | October 15, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse


Not quite. I have no love of Nylander, but but in economic terms, he is a "sunk cost". Every dollar we save playing him instead of calling up guys from Hershey is a dollar we can use later.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | October 15, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

BB: "So, Nyls. You want to play, but you know there's no spot for you with this club."

Nyls: "Ja. Kan du hjälpa mig?" (Yes, can you help me?)

BB: "You have a NTC, so you get to decide if you sit or move. Right?"

Nyls: "Jag måste gå (I have to go)."

BB: "So, GMGM and I want to 'showcase' you to let other NHL teams see what you can offer them."

Nyls: "Jag förstår inte! (I don't understand!)

BB: "Nyls, we're going to have you center the third line for two games. Consider it an audition for your next team. If nobody wants you, it's back to the skybox forever."

Answer A -- "Oj! Det var bra! Jag gillar den/det verkligen! (Oh, that's good. I really like it).
Answer B -- "Jag älskar dig! (I love you).
Answer C -- "Jag mår dåligt (I feel sick).

Posted by: beeman | October 15, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse


that is my point as well. They are setting it up so that any deadline trade we would make woudl be salary for salary. Most other teams looking to make deadline moves are looking to rid themselves of salary. So we are essentially screwing ourselves with these unnecessary callups.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I like Nyls, but he's just not going to get played. OK already? Let it go.

I seem to recall Aucoin's played wing with us before. He might again. I think he's a terrific player and agree that he brings needed energy. He will play and it will be nice to see.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 15, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Hey Tarik- can you please ask Boudreau or McPhee two direct questions:

1) What us the thought process behind the Nylander situation? We'd rather recall Aucoin? We'd rather play Sloan at wing? The situation demands that you ask the question.

2) Are you disappointed with Anton Gustafsson's progress? He said in an article (written by you) that he wanted to play in North America this season. Now he's not good enough to play in Hershey.. And he's not good enough to play in Sweden's Elite League? Is this guy a future Cap or is he a forward version of Sasha Pokulok?

I can get news of transactions from yahoo sports. What I need from you, Tarik, are tough questions.


Posted by: thetick73 | October 15, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Does no one understand the big picture of things??? Fine we don't play Nyls. We are better off double shifting Ovie, Semin and Laich for a game or two to save money. The thing that makes this even more questionable is BB says Gordon is going to play most likely. So then why the heck call a guy up.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

dcsportsfan1, didn't the Caps have at least two deals worked out for Nyls last year and he didn't waive the NMC? I'm remembering something with the 'Hawks and Oilers and he said something about not uprooting his family. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Posted by: jwash4472 | October 15, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

BB is looking for scoring from the 3rd and 4th lines. My guess is that if Gordon plays, he will sit Fehr in hopes that Acoin can shelp get some points from the 3rd or 4th line.

The problem with Nylander is that he is not versatile enough. He can only play center on an offensive line (BB tried him at wing a few times last season including the playoffs). So Nylander only plays if he is better than Backstrom or Morrison, which he is not. I bet if Morrison got hurt, Nylander would play 2nd line center, but he is not going to be a wing or a checking line center for this team.

Posted by: Wemiss21 | October 15, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

@ oldtime and Pat - Your explanation sounds like the old "throw good money after bad" approach - we're paying him, so we have to play him, even though he can't be effective. Playing him and getting him injured would be a disaster, ending any possibility of a trade. And enough with the conspiracy theories. He wasn't benched because he slept with GMGM's wife. Sometimes the obvious explanation is the truth.

Posted by: zmega | October 15, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

GMGM told BB before the camp started: "You are not playing Nyls, not now, not ever again. You know the reasons, you were there in NY last May and you know what happened. I don't care if we have to play a defensemen at a forward position, or if you have to use chronic AHLers like Aucoin." The discussion went about like that. He also emphazise that he needs to work hard to earn his pay.
GMGM doesn't believe anymore that he can trade him so he is moving forward with the thought that Nyls will be here all year. He is a sunk cost he has decided to accept because he believes that 6-7 players can carry this team all the way. It is a risky gamble that's for sure because I don't think we have the depth to do it. We have a guy like BMorrison who will eventually get hurt; and guys like Clark and Laich who can't win battles on the Board. I hope that Ovie, Sasha and Backie are eating their Weetabix and stay healthy.
As far as questioning Nyls pride, you really don't know the guy to make such a statement.

Posted by: atybat | October 15, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse


That is not the point. The point is everytime we recall someone it counts against the salary cap that we are up against. And honestly if we play him and he gets hurt then he goes on LTIR and frees up cap space so that wouldn't be a problem at all. This is strictly a salary cap issue for me. Has nothing to do with Nylander being better than Aucoin. BB can choose who he plays I dont care. The fact is we aren't gonna have any flexibility come the trade deadline and that screwed us last year.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

i still think Nyls, on the right line, can produce. lookin like he will have to wait for another team, though.

Posted by: doughless | October 15, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

No, Nyls doesn't play because there is a personal issue with GMGM. Period. So, the obvious is not so obvious. You see him at camp and at practice and you hear BB saying that Nyls is the hardest working guy out there, and you tell me that the coach decides that he should not play. No, this comes from higher up.
As far as waiving his NMC, he did it for Chicago and declined for Phoenix. He has not received any other offer. If he had, he probably would not be here; so give it up on Nylander wanting to just collectng his check; he is not that kind of guy.

Posted by: atybat | October 15, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

atybat - you made reference to the NY incident in a previous blog post but did not elaborate. What did Nylander supposedly do? Put his skates on the wrong feet? Accidently, walked into the NY locker room? What is it that GMGM is pissed off about?

Posted by: puckman | October 15, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Play Gordon or Aucoin.

Let Nylander rot.

Posted by: Cerealman | October 15, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

As lame as it sounds, I can't say. If the reporters would ask the right questions, perhaps, and I say perhaps, they would get to the bottom of it. I will give you a hint... The event happened on third game of the Play offs in NY right after the game. As you recall, Nyls was scratched from that game and has not played a single game since then.

Someone suggested that Nikki is watching Nyls' situation and may get a bad idea of the Caps with regards to his next contract.
I disagree. Nikki and Nyls are both professionals. They understand their situation is different. Yes, Nikki considers the Nylander like a second family but, at the same time, he considers Ovie like one of his best friend. And he likes it here. Unless GMGM tries to cheat him (which I doubt), Nikki will be a Caps for a long time. The better for us.

Posted by: atybat | October 15, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

atybat -- unless you're GMGM, BB or Ted, you're speaking of things that are way above your pay grade. Innuendo and inferences are not helpful.

Posted by: beeman | October 15, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

sorry beeman but this is not speculation. As for being above my pay grade; it is certainly true when compared to Ted's...

Posted by: atybat | October 15, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Nylander is a scoring line center only. Both Gordo and Aucoin are 4th line "energy" guys. Posted by: koalatek

I dont think so. There is supposed to be only one checking line but in reality the Caps are forced to skate two. The third line as is expected of most teams having Stanely cup aspirations, must also be able to score.

Posted by: cirrus_nine | October 15, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

let... it... go.

Posted by: Chad8 | October 15, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I would play Nyls if for no other reason than that if he sustains an injury they might be able to put him on IR and get some salary cap relief. Any hopes of bolstering the defense between now and the playoffs revolves around getting Nylander's salary off the books (one way or another).

The NMC is a virtual non-factor because NOBODY WANTS HIM at that ridiculous salary. The only way it comes into play is that it prevents them from sending him to the minors (which Im sure they would, if they could, as it would free up cap space).

Posted by: chombie13 | October 15, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

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