With the 2009-2010 regular season approaching and anticipation as ardent as ever, the Washington Capitals will look to close in on the first Stanley Cup. What is not yet known is the roster that will start that chase for Washington at Boston on the eve of October 1st.
As of now, there are two roster spots open and both are Michael Nylander’s presumable wingers. Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann are ailing with injuries and it is certain the latter will miss time well into the season’s inaugural month.
With the interest of filling those two positions, which non-NHLers will or have impressed Gabby and GMGM enough to fill the void?
Chris Bourque – Sparkplug in his heart, the Boston native is an energy guy and a reliable scoring threat even with limited minutes. While he hasn’t stunned anyone just yet, he can offer Michael Nylander some dependable and trustworthy relief in pressure and scoring situations.
The son of legend Ray Bourque deserves more regular time in the NHL and if he can pot a couple of goals and several assists in the first month, he’s likely going to put Bruce in a pickle about sending the winger back to the minors.
With Brendan Morrison likely centering Brooks Laich and Alex Semin, Chris Clark is a lock for the other wing position. Is he going to live up to his self-created hype that he is as fit as ever? Who knows?
If anyone has a chance of unseating him for NHL minutes, it might be the veteran AHLer Quintin Laing. The 30-year old shot blocking machine during the Caps’ amazing run to the post-season in 2008 was a stellar defensive figure for his club and contributed modestly on offense.
While I admire the heart Laing has for putting his body in front of any shot he saw coming – for a team he played so seldom with (39 games in 2007-2008) – I do not believe he is the supplemental figure for this third line.
There are lots of ifs, ands, and buts however:
If Nylander doesn’t show any sort of willingness to score, commit, or both – is Laich then the third-line center? Does Clark then take Laich’s position on second-line right wing? Does the L-S-B line reunite?
Most importantly, where is the void that needs to be filled? Center? Wing? Defense?
All of these questions are really unanswerable. Boudreau’s lines are as unpredictable as Nylander’s scoring has been of late. With a plethora of young talent rising through the ranks, its only a matter of time when we see the likes of Oskar Osala, Mathieu Perreault, and Dmitri Kugryshev become Washington Capitals.