Capitals Assign Karl Alzner, Bryan Helmer and Daren Machesney to Hershey
The Washington Capitals have assigned defensemen Karl Alzner and Bryan Helmer and goaltender Daren Machesney to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.
Alzner, 20, has played in 26 NHL games this season, recording one goal and three assists. He recorded his first NHL point Dec. 4 in a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders and recorded his first NHL goal the next game in a 2-1 victory at Toronto on Dec. 6. The 6’2”, 206-pound Burnaby, British Columbia, native is third among NHL rookies in ice time. Alzner has played in 20 games this season with Hershey, recording two goals and seven assists.
Helmer, 36, played in four games during his most recent recall and now has three assists in 12 games on the season. The 6’2”, 208-pound Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, native recorded his first point as a Capital in a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Helmer has played in 33 games this season with Hershey, recording 19 assists. He leads all Hershey defenseman in that category.
Machesney, 22, was recalled on Jan. 19. He has now dressed as a backup for the Capitals five times in his career. Machesney is 11-5-1 with a 2.99 GAA and a .879 save percentage for Hershey this season.
To me this is not a surprise that Alzner is being sent down given that it is the All Star break and at only 20 years old Karl needs to play hockey. He will get close to 30 minutes a game down in Hershey and that will help his development. For those of you listening when Caps GM George McPhee was on the radio on our own WNST this morning with Drew, you heard George say that next week the team will be fully healthy and if Karl comes back up he will play fewer minutes. So this move makes total sense since the Caps are off until next Tuesday night. I could even see Alzner staying down in Hershey for a little longer until McPhee is able to create some more salary cap room, but you can bet that he will be back up for the playoffs because Washington will need him. By the way, the Caps were 18-8 in the 26 games Alzner has played in.
Backstrom out of Young Stars game
Caps center Nicklas Backstrom pulled out of the Young Stars game for this weekend’s All Star festivities after originally committing to it. Here is his statement from today about the decision:
“I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in the YoungStars Game last year,” Backstrom said. “This year I felt like it made more sense for me to give someone else that opportunity and use this time to rest and prepare for the second half of the season with the Washington Capitals. I can assure Caps fans that I’m not injured and will be ready to go Tuesday in Boston.”