In a move that significantly bolsters an already impressive Hershey Bears lineup, the Washington Capitals assigned forwards Chris Bourque and Quintin Laing, and defenseman Karl Alzner to the AHL club on Monday.
Bourque, 22, son of Hall of fame defenseman Ray Bourque, made the decision to send him to Hershey a difficult one for the Caps’ brass. In six exhibition outings, Bourque collected 6 points (3g, 3a), including a pair of goals against the Boston Bruins, the team that his father skated for throughout much of his NHL Hall of Fame career. Coming into this season, there were still questions about whether the 5-foot-7, 173 pound Bourque could produce in the NHL, where the average height last season was 6-foot-1 and average weight over 200 pounds, but with his strong pre-season showing, the Boston native answered that question with an emphatic “Yes!”
Alzner, a 20-year-old native of Calgary, Alberta, and the 5th overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, also had a strong training camp, playing steady defense (+3) and chipping in offensively with a pair of assists in Sunday’s shootout loss to the Bruins. With Washington’s budget cap issues, Alzner’s $1.675 NHL salary weighed heavily against him in his battle to make the opening night roster. In previous years, especially in the pre-salary cap era, Alzner’s pre-season numbers would have likely earned him an NHL spot. However, in today’s budget-conscious NHL, those numbers are not always goals and assists.
The 29 year-old Laing, a native of Harris, Saskatchewan, suited up for 39 regular season games with the Capitals last season, after appearing in just three NHL contests in his previous eight pro seasons. Laing’s post-season action consisted of only one game, with Washington electing to go with a more offensive oriented lineup. Known primarily for his outstanding shot blocking abilities and willingness to sacrifice his body to accomplish that feat, Laing was Washington’s nominee last season for the Bill Masterson Trophy, awarded to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.