First defenseman Karl Alzner and now forward Chris Bourque. Michal Nylander and his $4.875 salary cap hit is causing some havoc with the Washington Capitals roster as GM George McPhee and Coach Bruce Boudreau continue to not be able to take the “best” line-up they could put on the ice to Boston on Thursday night. In a bit of a bizarre situation the Caps had to place Bourque, who on Monday was told he made the team, on waivers today. If Bourque, who is the son of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, is claimed by any team Washington does not get any compensation for a guy who would be in the lineup on Thursday night if not for Nylander’s salary cap hit. Nylander showed up to training camp this September and has skated but he has not participated in a single pre-season game. Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post brings you the stunning news on this story in this video.
Here is some other interesting NHL news from today:
Former Capital Robert Lang was signed by the Phoenix Coyotes today. When Lang, who is very likeable and thus a great guy to have in the locker room, suffered an achilles tendon injury last season in Montreal, the Habs began their regular season slide that would end with them getting swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Bruins.
Forward Maxim Afinogenov, who had played for the Buffalo Sabres for his entire NHL career (9 years), signed today with the Atlanta Thrashers. The shifty forward has a lot of offensive talent but he is injury prone and can disappear for long stretches. Nonetheless he helps a fairly weak Atlanta line-up and he gets to play with fellow Russian Ilya Kovalchuk, who is one of the league’s elite players.
In Zurich today, the Chicago Blackhawks were beaten by the ZSC Lions in an exhibition game. The replay was shown tonight on the NHL network and you would have thought the ZSC players had won the Stanley Cup the way they paraded around the ice with the Victoria Cup. The Hawks outshot the Lions 35-22 but lost, 2-1, and in net for Chicago is the man who has yet to win an NHL playoff series – Cristobal Huet.
Finally, some guy named Crosby practiced today and is expected to play in the defending Stanley Cup Champions season opener against John Tortorella’s New York Rangers on Friday night. I have seen many prognosticators pick Sid the Kid’s teammate, Evgeni Malkin, to win the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) this year. I think Malkin is a tremendous player as evidenced by his capturing of the Conn Smythe Trophy (Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP) but he could NOT do the things he gets to do on the ice without Crosby. Crosby is the best player on the Penguins and he faces the opponents top checking line every game, so without him the Pens lose in the second round to the Caps and are golfing while the Great #8 would have likely been holding the Stanley Cup. I respect Crosby’s game, he sees the ice much like Wayne Gretzky did in his day, but give me Alexander Ovechkin (won the Hart Trophy the past two seasons) ahead of #87 or #71 every time.
If you missed my on air session with WNST’s Drew Forrester on the Comcast Morning Show click here for the WNST audio vault and scroll down to my name.
On Wednesday night I will bring you my Eastern Conference regular season predictions.