Ovechkin Practicing / Caps Recall Sloan (UPDATED AGAIN)

March 07, 2009 | Ed Frankovic

Good news from Kettler Ice Plex today as Alexander Ovechkin is on the ice practicing and according to Tarik El-Bashir the Great #8 seems to be skating fine (see his Capitals Insider blog for more info). Also defensemen Tom Poti is practicing but isn’t at 100% which necessitated a need to call up a defenseman from Hershey and below is the press release from the Caps.

The Washington Capitals have recalled defenseman Tyler Sloan from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Sloan, 27, has played in 26 NHL games this season, recording one goal, four assists and 14 penalty minutes. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 21 in his hometown of Calgary and scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 25 at Dallas.

The seventh-year pro is in his third season with Hershey. He has skated in 33 games with the Bears this season and has two goals and nine assists and a +11 rating. Sloan played 124 games with Hershey the past two seasons combined after making his debut with the club during its run to the Calder Cup championship in the 2006 AHL playoffs.

Comments: I’ll be at tomorrow’s Caps-Penguins game and will have a story on that one as Washington tries to end its recent three game slide against a hot Pittsburgh team that has won five in a row. I’ll also try and find out why Sloan was recalled instead of Karl Alzner because I find that interesting. It could be that Poti is likely to play tomorrow so the Caps wanted to make sure Alzner played tonight. Or it could have to do with money (how soon Alzner hits arbitration) and/or the salary cap as Washington might need to save cap space in case Brian Pothier turns out to be fully recovered from his concussion. The other option is Alzner is just not playing well. Whatever the logic is on this recall by the Caps, I intend to find out tomorrow.

UPDATE: In Tarik’s most recent blog he mentioned the reason Sloan was recalled over Alzner is primarily because of when Alzner would be eligible to become a free agent. Tarik suggests that if Alzner plays 40 regular season games he becomes a free agent one year earlier than if he doesn’t, so since Alzner has played 30 games already he thinks the Caps only want him to play 9 or fewer games to stay under the magic number of 40.

2ND UPDATE: Okay, so I just got off the phone with an NHL scout and he says Alzner is already considered a pro so the 40 games has nothing to do with when he becomes a free agent. He will be a restricted free agent in three years, unless he renegotiates in the last year, regardless of how many games he plays from here on out with the Caps this season. HOWEVER, salary cap is the prime driver here. If Alzner comes up now and Pothier passes his 3 to 5 game conditioning stint with flying colors then the Caps likely would not have enough salary cap room to bring both up in this scenario (Alzner now, Pothier in 2 weeks). Thus by bringing up Sloan, who has a significantly lower cap hit ($475K vs. $1.675M) the Caps can still maintain a scenario where both Alzner and Pothier are recalled for the remainder of the regular season at some point in the coming weeks. I will try and clarify all of this with McPhee on Sunday.