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Morning Links: Bourque, Laing Make Final Statements

(John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

Yesterday's preseason finale was the last chance for Quintin Laing and Chris Bourque, both angling for spots on the Caps' opening-night roster, to prove themselves.

They both performed solidly in the a 4-3 win over the Rangers, but who knows when we'll actually hear who's in and who's out. With wingers Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr sitting out, Bourque, Laing, Alexandre Giroux and Keith Aucoin all have a shot.

The Caps have until 3 p.m. Wednesday to make a decision, and according to Coach Bruce Boudreau, they still need at least a little bit more time.

"We have an idea of where we are going with this," Boudreau said after the game. "But it's not an exact science. We have to try to see what the best fit for our team is. It might not necessarily be the best players that stay. It might be [about] fit."

It's possible some cuts could come today. The team practices at 10:30 a.m.

Until then, a short roundup of odds and ends:

* Caps convention smorgasbord (Alex Ovetjkin)

* More on the Caps convention, Owner Edition (Ted's Take)

* On the instigator rule (Puck Daddy)

* Fantasy preview: Caps (TSN)

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  September 28, 2009; 5:27 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Caps 4, Rangers 3
Next: Practice Update From Kettler


with fehr and flash out i think aucoin and bourque can both have spots.

Semin-B. Morrison-Laich

Green-S. Morrisonn

(now i think BB will keep Shultz, and what do we do with juice, nyls and gordo?) but the above is how i think the lines should be.

Posted by: capsfan387 | September 28, 2009 5:32 AM | Report abuse

also theo should get the start over varly and should be considered the lead goalie. two 3 goal periods for varly this preseason, regardless of penalties, that's pretty shaky...theo had our only losses this preseason but he was solid and kept the games close and we only lost by 1pt.

Posted by: capsfan387 | September 28, 2009 5:33 AM | Report abuse

Boyd Gordon should not be bumped IMO. The guy is a work horse, a top penalty killer, a solid face-off guy, and looked very good when inserted in the preseason line-up. He never takes a shift off.

If Bourque stays, and after yesterday's game I am convinced he should, it will be as a wing, not a center.

Out of the 4 forwards on the bubble, Giroux, Bourque, Aucoin, and Laing, last year's AHL goal scoring champion has made the weakest case in my opinion. The other 3 have played well and contributed when in the preseason lineup.

On D, Sloan has looked good, especially for the price, and with the salary cap a major issue that HAS to be a major consideration when deciding on the opening day lineup.

Those are my opinions, and BB and GMGM have a lot of tough decisions which is great for Caps. We are definitely a deep team. I sure am glad I don't have to disappoint one of these young solid players that if trying out for at least 20 other NHL teams they would probably be in the lineup. I suspect the decision will come today because the specialty teams and lines need to start working together. The extra players will be a distraction.

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 28, 2009 6:53 AM | Report abuse

i agree with gordo, so replace aucoin with gordo, but its sad aucoin and bourque both earned a spot...but i seriously think bourque deserves the red more. i also agree on the sloan bit he has a 1 way contract so he'll have to clear waivers i believe alzner has a maybe sloan will get the nod over alzner...but still what to do with juice

Posted by: capsfan387 | September 28, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Gordon has been playing really well in the pre-season, I think he'll fit better than Lainger.

I love Laing's story/personality/etc., but I don't see him as an NHL guy.

Posted by: TheOriginalEgon | September 28, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Aucoin is a Center, not a Wing...

Posted by: Caps16Fan | September 28, 2009 7:59 AM | Report abuse

can we trade any of these excess players on defense, i remember a few years ago when the caps were dying for defensive help and guys like schultz and erskine wouldve looked pretty good to me then...and i cant imagine there isnt a team that wouldnt mind having those guys and maybe would do us a favor and take Nyls...gosh golly, that Nyls contract is just an anchor on this team...

Posted by: cotelloer | September 28, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

ok i put the lines together as more of to show who is on them not who plays what. you can change the positions all you want.

BB loves Laing which is why i think he has a very good chance of making the team

Posted by: capsfan387 | September 28, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

@capsfan387: I don't think your lines will work.

* Semin doesn't play LW, and Laich plays C or LW.
* Aucoin's size is not really suited to a checking line and his defensive responsibility wants work. If he makes the lineup, it will be on BMo's left side, bumping Laich to the third line.
* Defensive responsibility is a real need in Caps forwards with Fedorov gone. I'm thinking that whoever has shown defensive responsibility will have the upper hand.
* Alzner is headed for Hershey - he's plain been outplayed by Sloan, who has been at least as good on defense plus contributed on offense. His cap hit does not allow him to be carried as a 7th or 8th D, which is not true of Sloan (who has less than half Alzner's hit). Alzner is also not subject to waivers.
* Schultz has been very solid on D this pre-season - that summer adding of muscle has paid off. I anticipate that he will be a top-four and do not think you will see him excluded.

Here's what I see (I'm using numbers here):

(14, 16 - IR)

4/23 - 89


My question is, who gets the second A?

Posted by: kittypawz | September 28, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse


Juice isn't going anywhere. I don't think Gordo's on the bubble either.

A lot depends on the nature of the contracts here, which I can't provide much information on -- who needs to clear waivers to move during the season, etc. Aucoin's earned a slot but with a healthy BMo (and a very outside chance that Nyls gets in) we may not need an extra center. I think Borque will spend some time in Hershey. Laing might stay.

I seriously doubt that you are correct with Alzner in there, unless we carry 8 D. It may make sense to allow him to fumble for a while before coalescing in the NHL, but I doubt it happens this year. The salary cap comes into play there too; he may be too expensive to have up (plus he hasn't earned it IMHO). Absent a trade we're looking at the same 7 D as last year. Fortunately I think we're going to see a much improved Juice and Schultz and even Green this year.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 28, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I hope it is Bourque. This kid is ready. You have to think about who we have on the squad already. If it were Gordon or Clark that were injured, I would say Laing should get considered, but since it is not I am really hoping it is Bourque - he fits in the plans more long-term. He also can't do any more in Hershey.

Posted by: Grape8 | September 28, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse


You seem to be missing Poti on the Defense..I think Laing & Borque make the roster...and there needs to be a trade brewing here but not for another salary coming back...any moves that are made are for draft picks or depth for Hershey.

Yesterday, Laing was great as was Pothier, best I've seen him since he got here, even pre-Lucic.

Posted by: opus1m | September 28, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

We need to cut five players. Here are the possibilities


I ranked these from who I think is least likely to most likely to go. The ones in the middle are tougher calls and depend a lot on the cap and on waiver requirements.

You're welcome to tell me why you think this is not accurate.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 28, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Crap. I forgot Poti. Third D-pairing should be 3-89. My bad :)

Also, I see a big flaw in my lines, and that's the cap. With what I just put up, says things look like this:

Alexander Ovechkin ($9.538m) / Michael Nylander ($4.875m) / Alexander Semin ($4.600m)
Mike Knuble ($2.800m) / Chris Clark ($2.633m) / Nicklas Backstrom ($2.400m)
Brooks Laich ($2.067m) / Brendan Morrison ($1.500m) / Matt Bradley ($1.000m)
Eric Fehr ($0.772m) / Boyd Gordon ($0.761m) / Dave Steckel ($0.725m)
Tomas Fleischmann ($0.725m) / Chris Bourque ($0.578m) / Quintin Laing ($0.500m)
Mike Green ($5.250m) / Tom Poti ($3.500m)
Brian Pothier ($2.500m) / Shaone Morrisonn ($1.975m)
Milan Jurcina ($1.375m) / John Erskine ($1.250m)
Jeff Schultz ($0.715m) / Tyler Sloan ($0.640m)
Jose Theodore ($4.500m) / Simeon Varlamov ($0.822m)
ROSTER: 25; PAYROLL: $58.367m; CAP ROOM: $0.083m BONUSES: $1.650m

Technically doable? Yes. But we're using the bonus cushion like whoa and have NO room for another callup. if I take out Sloan and Bourque, I get:

ROSTER: 23; PAYROLL: $57.150m; CAP ROOM: $1.300m BONUSES: $1.650m

Better, but still into the bonus cushion. Fussing about Nylander's contract is pretty pointless - it's going to take a Jedi mind trick to move that before next year. (Paging Glen Sather.) If it happens, great, but I wouldn't pin all my hopes on it. Next year, it gets dropped one way or another, bet your bottom dollar on it.

I'm glad it's not my job to make all this work.

Posted by: kittypawz | September 28, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Collins has already cleared waivers and is in Hershey.

Posted by: Riddler1 | September 28, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

@Sonyask: The only change I'd make is placing Bourque above Aucoin and Sugden. With Fedorov gone, defensive responsibility in forwards is going to come into play in the decision, and Bourque's shown more of that than Aucoin. Sugden isn't signed by the Caps yet, only by Hershey, and with the Caps at 49 of 50 permissible contracts, I don't think he gets the 50th.

Posted by: kittypawz | September 28, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Riddler1 & Kitty.

I'm not convinced on Borque, but I've been wrong before. Most of the time I've been wrong on Aucoin -- I've felt he earned his way here quite some time ago and was displeased we did not a lot of him in the expanded playoff roster.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 28, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

So if Collins is already down, do we need to cut only 4? Are we at 27 on the roster at the moment, or am I missing someone?

The roster I was dealing with was from the Capitals Game Notes distributed prior to yesterday's game.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 28, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Also I think Nuevirth has been, or is all but, sent down already.

Posted by: superpaqman | September 28, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Also I think Nuevirth has been, or is all but, sent down already.

Posted by: superpaqman | September 28, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

GIROUX and AUCOIN have left KCI with their equipment bags. They "looked ominous"

NOT A CONFIRMED CUT TO HERSHEY but is being reported by CORY from the Washington Times via his twitter page. (cmasisak22)

Stay tuned

Posted by: whsqb10 | September 28, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

On D I don't think Sloan has unseated any of the regulars and he and Alzner will likely be sent down unless ShaMo is moved which doesn't seem likely. The D lineup will then be about matchups and against Boston will need to be big so likely Pothier is the healthy scratch.

At forward, Giroux is cut. Sugden might get spot call-ups if he gets a contract, but sent down nonetheless. Laing stays. "We have to try to see what the best fit for our team is. It might not necessarily be the best players that stay. It might be [about] fit." It seems BB is talking specifically of Laing. He might be talking about Aucoin too. Despite Aucoin being a center, he seems a better fit. I can't quantify why he's better than Bourque, nor do I know what they're like in the lockerroom, but Aucoin just seems to mesh better in Boudreau's system. Plus, he's an extra center who can play out on the wing and makes him more valuable than Nylander who gets pummeled on the wing. Bourque would certainly have a place in Washington if Nylander was gone, but until that happens Bourque is likely the odd man out.

Posted by: IceNutz | September 28, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Alzner, Aucoin, Giroux and Sugden were all cut 20 minutes ago.

Posted by: ThePat | September 28, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, ThePat. Just saw the cuts over on Cory's blog at the Times. Sorry to see Aucoin go; I think he should have stayed. Agree with the other 3 cuts, though.

Posted by: 1hockeymom | September 28, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Alzner, Aucoin, Giroux and Sugden were all cut 20 minutes ago.

Posted by: ThePat | September 28, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Good to know, thanks.

There are 4 pure centers left on the roster now. I can't believe they will play Nyls, so I'm betting Brooks centers.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 28, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse


Backstrom, B. Mo, Steckel, Gordon...we don't need Laich playing center.

Posted by: ThePat | September 28, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Well, if this is the case CONGRATS to Bourque. He has to continue to work hard to remain with the squad when Flash and Fehr return but he did this on his own. His name didn't get him on the opening day roster, his hard work did.

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 28, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I agree with ThePat. Also, if they chose to have Steckel play alongside Gordon like they did last year at times Laing could be the 4th line center. At least until Flash and Fehr return.

I will tell you what though, Flash and Fehr must continue to work hard because they could become trade bait with players like Giroux pushing to make our squad. I feel bad for Aucoin too because the little guy can play the game, and with impressive passion too.

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 28, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse


I disagree with you on Aucoin. Don't let his passion fool you into thinking he can play. He's a hard worker, but there is a reason he is basically a career minor leaguer. He can last at the NHL game for a handful of games here and there but he's not an NHLer for 82 games.

Posted by: ThePat | September 28, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse


Gordo -- Of course -- I had left him out.

I guess I'll be forever disappointed that Aucoin can't land a slot, even with two forwards out. Package him with ShaMo for a trade. Coiner's been a regular NHLer in the past and could be what a needy team could use.

I think there's still a cut to make. The injury gods have made it easy to cut Neuvy.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 28, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

A lot of people will probably disagree with me on this statement but I think if we can trade Fehr and get decent value we should take it. I think Fehr will be an average to above average player at best, I don't ever think he'll be a good to great player. With that being said I'd rather see Bourque get the roster spot in his place. I think Aucoin brings energy but I don't know if he has the skill set to maintain an 82 game schedule. I think Giroux is a career minor league guy and the same for Laing as well. I love Laing but I don't know if he's worthy of a roster spot. I think Bourque has more upside than Fehr and I don't think Fehr is the player we thought he was 2 years ago. I would trade Fehr if we could get something decent for him (Vet Player, 2nd rd pick, etc).

Posted by: DCSportsFan28 | September 28, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse


Aucoin has never played more than 38 NHL games in a season. Last year was the second most NHL games in a season he has ever played. Far from a regular NHLer. He busts his ass, and plays with passion like fanohock1 has stated. But that passion can only cover your capabilities for a number of games. We have other guys that play with passion, but they aren't 5'6 so it doesn't stick out.

Posted by: ThePat | September 28, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse


Point taken. But I've always seen him not only play hard, but also make brilliant passes, and score from time to time. I have not seen the guy run out of gas. He may not be Martin St. Louis, but he's in the mold.

We've got plenty of flash (no pun intended), so maybe he's not what we need, but he could serve well elsewhere and he would not be costly to a team in need. He's got trade value, and clearly we are not going to utilize him.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 28, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I know why he's a career minor leager and it's not his skill, it's his size. As a center he has big defensive end responsibilities and the fear is that he can be moved off the puck, which is a legit concern. If he would have been able to find a way to move his game to the wing he'd probably have a better shot at staying in the NHL. He has never been a liability in the Caps line-up preseason or regular season. He has 21 pts in 65 NHL games, that's not too shabby. More importantly he had 6 points in 12 games with the Caps last season and looked good doing it.

He's gone because of his size and the amount of proven centers in the lineup already.

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 28, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

and the guy's 5' 9", so don't cheat him out of 3 inches. :)

Posted by: Sonyask | September 28, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

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