While the Capitals spoke at length on their Stanley Cup aspirations during media day this afternoon at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, there was a brief interlude to the optimism accompanying a fresh start when the topic of conversation turned to cuts. Earlier this morning, the club had announced the assignment of forwards Mathieu Perreault, Jay Beagle and Andrew Gordon (if he clears waivers) to Hershey.
"It's always a tough day telling a player he's not ready to play here, or he may have to go through waivers," GM George McPhee said. "That's the toughest part of the job, and today was as difficult as any day we've had doing it."
The decision to send down Perreault, a fan favorite each time he played last season at Verizon Center, was especially taxing after he competed admirably against Marcus Johansson for a roster spot. Both play center, but Coach Bruce Boudreau alluded to the Swede's defense as among the determining factors for keeping the team's first-round pick (24th overall) in last year's draft.
"We think Matty at his stage right now has probably got more offensive upside," Boudreau said. "Marcus has got more defensive upside with the skating and just coming from Sweden, where they preach defense all the time. It's a really tough call. Who knows what would have happened or how it would have if, say, Matty had to clear waivers."
The Capitals will have to wait on just that for Gordon, who was their seventh-round pick in the 2004 draft. Gordon played two games with Washington last season and 79 with Hershey. He was one of two AHL players to score 50 goals combined in the regular season and playoffs in 2009-10.
Today's cuts also mean forward Matt Hendricks will be with the Capitals when they begin their season on Friday night at Atlanta. Washington signed Hendricks to a one-year contract late last month. In his preseason debut, the forward, who spent the past two seasons with Colorado, tallied a hat trick in a 6-2 victory over Columbus.