The Washington Capitals have recalled defensemen Karl Alzner and Sami Lepisto and forwards Chris Bourque and Graham Mink from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.
In addition the Caps have placed both Chris Clark (forearm fracture) and Jeff Schultz (surgery on broken finger) on long term injury and both must miss at least 10 games. However, the good news is the Caps can replace Schultz’s $763,889 cap hit as well as Clark’s $2.63 million hit. This will likely give the Caps a chance to keep Alzner up for an extended period and perhaps the season if he performs well, as I expect him to do.
Alzner, 20, is a 6’2”, 205-pound first-year pro from Burnaby, British Columbia. The former captain of the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League was the Capitals’ first-round choice, fifth overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Alzner is tied for second in the AHL with a +15 rating in 20 games with the Bears and ranks second among Bears defensemen, trailing Lepisto, with nine points (two goals, seven assists). Alzer, who will wear No. 47 with the Capitals, is poised to make his NHL regular-season debut tonight against Atlanta (7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Capitals Radio 1500 and 820 AM) after recording two assists and a +3 rating in five preseason games with Washington.
Lepisto (SA-mee LEH-pihs-toh), 24, is a 6’1”, 195-pound native of Espoo, Finland, who made his NHL debut last season and played seven games with Washington, recording one assist. Lepisto leads Hershey defensemen and ranks tied for fourth among AHL defensemen with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 20 games. Lepisto also stands tied for fourth in the league with a +14 rating. Lepisto was Washington’s third-round choice, 66th overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and wears No. 42 for the Capitals.
Bourque, 22, is a 5’10”, 177-pound native of Boston, Mass., who has played five games with Washington in the past two seasons. Bourque ranks tied for sixth in the AHL with 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 18 games with the Bears. His 16 assists are second-best on the team and tied for fifth in the league. A fourth-year pro, Bourque is coming off back-to-back seasons of 25 or more goals for Hershey. Bourque, who wears No. 56 in Washington and last year became the 23rd son of a Hockey Hall of Famer (Ray) to play in the NHL, ranked third on the Capitals in preseason scoring this season with six points (three goals, three assists) in six games.
Mink, 29, is an eighth-year pro who stands 6’3”, 218 pounds. The Stowe, Vermont, native has played five career NHL games, all with Washington, but none since the 2005-06 season. He is tied for 10th in the AHL in goals (10) and points (21) in 19 games. Mink, No. 38 with Washington, rejoined the Capitals organization as a free agent on July 2, 2008, after spending two seasons playing for the AHL’s Worcester Sharks.