Bourque, Alzner Among Caps' Cuts

 Chris Bourque
Left wing Chris Bourque gets cut after scoring three goals in six exhibition games for the Capitals. (Jim McIsaac-- Getty Images) (By Jim Mcisaac -- Getty Images)
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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Washington Capitals made their final cuts yesterday, demoting left wing Chris Bourque and defenseman Karl Alzner to the minor leagues and waiving veteran left wing Quintin Laing.

The moves came well ahead of tomorrow's 3 p.m. deadline for submitting opening night rosters to the NHL and leave the Capitals with 22 players, one fewer than the league maximum. Bourque and Alzner were assigned to Hershey, Pa., of the American Hockey League; Laing also will join the Bears if he clears waivers.

"They were the toughest cuts I've ever had to make," Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Bourque and Alzner. "Because they did everything they could. It's just not in the cards right now."

Bourque, 22, had three goals and three assists in six preseason games, but the son of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque was unable to crack a Capitals lineup that is as deep as it's been in years. That Bourque did not have to clear waivers probably made the decision easier.

Alzner, meantime, also left an impression with a solid, if not spectacular, performance in training camp. His demotion likely had as much to do with his need for some additional professional experience before making the considerable leap from juniors to the NHL as the team's close proximity to the salary cap ceiling of $56.7 million.

Because of a quirk in the collective bargaining agreement, there is no 7.5 percent cushion for bonuses this season, so all of Alzner's $1.675 million in compensation (his base salary plus performance incentives) would have counted against the Capitals' salary cap figure. By sending Alzner, 20, to the minors, the Capitals will save one day of his cap hit for every 24 hours he is in Hershey, thus allowing the team to build space under the salary cap should the team want to recall him or make an acquisition at the trade deadline.

"One of things we thought was Mike Green started down there and Jeff Schultz started down there and we didn't rush either one of them," Boudreau said, deferring all questions about the salary cap implications of Alzner's demotion to General Manager George McPhee. McPhee said through a team spokesman that he will address the moves today.

Alzner's demotion does, however, leave the Capitals with only six defensemen, though veteran center Sergei Fedorov, 38, can be used in spot duty on the blueline.

"We signed him as a centerman," Boudreau said of Fedorov. "We expect him to be our number two centerman. But we feel very confident that he can go back [on defense] and play if we need it. . . . If we feel he's better suited back there in the future, that gives us options to do things."

Laing, 29, became a fan favorite and locker room favorite last season, but there simply was no room for another fourth-line grinder. "Quintin," Boudreau said, "he was so proud to be a Washington Capital. He probably took it the hardest."

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