Caps Claim Kronwall off Waivers / Recall Giroux from Hershey / NHL News

February 06, 2009 | Ed Frankovic

More Caps Moves After Alzner Call Up

The Washington Capitals claimed defensemen Staffan Kronwall, the brother of Red Wings defensemen Niklas Kronwall, today from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Combined with the recall of Karl Alzner from Hershey the Caps will now have 8 healthy defensemen on the roster.

In addition, John Walton of Hershey is reporting that forward Alexander Giroux has been recalled from the Bears by Washington. With Viktor Kozlov out and Brooks Laich suffering from a bad calf as a result of a shot off of his leg on Thursday against Los Angeles, GM George McPhee and Coach Bruce Boudreau wanted to make sure they have 12 healthy forwards for their big game with the Florida Panthers on Saturday night at the Verizon Center (first 5,000 kids 14 and under get a free Caps lunchbox too!).

The Kronwall acquisition is a bit of a head scratcher for me considering the guy wasn’t playing up in the NHL with a bad Leafs team (he was in the AHL playing for the Toronto Marlies) even with defensemen Tomas Kaberle out with an injury. McPhee is pretty tight with Leafs GM Brian Burke and Ron Wilson used to coach here so perhaps George got some insight from them on Kronwall??

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Sean Avery, who has undergone anger management counseling for two months, is now ready to continue his hockey career, his agent said today. Dallas Co-GM Les Jackson says the Stars do not want him back and there is talk of him possibly ending back up with the Rangers after a stint in the AHL with Hartford (New York’s minor league affiliate)

The Pittsburgh Penguins were trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 after two periods on Wednesday night so I turned on the game expecting to see Head Coach Michel Therien’s last period as the Pens bench boss (he is reportedly on thin ice). Fortunately for Therien forward Evgeni Malkin carried Pittsburgh on his back in the third period and overtime to lead them to a thrilling 4-3 victory. The Pens were in 10th place and three points behind eight place Florida heading into tonight’s game with Columbus. Pittsburgh is up 3-0 after two periods and would move just one point back of the eighth spot but the Panthers have three games in hand.

The Anaheim Ducks have played 55 games, most in the NHL, and are sitting in 5th place in the Western Conference standings. However, the teams that are only six points or less behind them (10 teams) all have at least four games in hand except for Phoenix (two games) and Colorado (three games). This means that Anaheim could find itself on the outside looking in at the playoffs when the number of games played evens out in the near future. Defensemen Scott Niedermayer is a free agent after the season and according to the talk on Hockey Night in Canada Radio with Jeff Marek and Craig Simpson on Thursday (Sirius 122), he is likely to come back next year only in Anaheim so that he can play in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (Niedermayer is from British Columbia).  What does that mean? Well perhaps Anaheim may look to move $6.25M salary cap man Chris Pronger at this year’s deadline since they won’t want to have over $12M a year tied up in two defensemen. If Pronger gets moved you can bet that whatever team gets him will immediately become a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Here is a question to Caps fans: Would you trade forward Alexander Semin for Chris Pronger? Both Semin and Pronger are signed through the 2009-10 season.