I know it has been a purple Sunday for most of you and it was for me too but a couple of things of note happened in Washington Capitals land today that were worth passing along to you hockey fans out there ready to Rock the Red in the upcoming season.
First, forward Michael Nylander met with the media Sunday and says he wants to play in the NHL this year. This is interesting because both Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau and GM George McPhee told us on Saturday that there was a possibility of Nylander going to play in Europe (and hopefully his $4.875M salary cap hit for the next 2 years). Click for the transcript of Nylander’s interview from Sunday (thanks to Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post).
Second, apparently forward Tomas Fleischmann, who scored 19 goals last season and saw significant playing time on the second line and on the power play last season, has a blood clot and will not be practicing until early October. That puts him out until late October, at the earliest. The injury to Fleischmann, who was pretty much a lock to make the team and play 15 to 18 minutes a game, now opens up another forward spot in addition to the one talked about on Saturday. I see this development as an opening for either Chris Clark, Chris Bourque, Keith Aucoin, or even Nylander to take advantage of during training camp and the early part of the season.
Here are the top 2 lines as I see them right now (but this is just my take, not Boudreau’s or McPhee’s):
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Mike Knuble
Brooks Laich – Brendan Morrison – Alex Semin
Also, Dave Steckel, Matt Bradley, and Boyd Gordon will very likely be somewhere in the bottom six forwards.
Forwards Eric Fehr (behind due to a shoulder injury) and Fleischmann are injured.
That leaves Clark, Nylander, Aucoin, Bourque, and Quintin Laing to fight for the final three forward spots. Forwars Jay Beagle, Matthieu Perreault, and Steve Pinnizzotto (for his grit and toughness) would be three additional guys who, if they really wow McPhee and Boudreau in training camp, could conceivably make the opening night roster, but those three seemed more destined for Hershey, at this point. The pre-season games now get more interesting with the Fleischmann injury and the Nylander situation. The first pre-season game is Thursday night at the Sabres and the first home pre-season game is Monday, Sepember 21 against Buffalo again (on Saturday night the Caps are in Chicago to face the Blackhawks).