Timo Blomquist, a highly regarded Finnish defenseman, is due in Washington this afternoon and the Capitals expect to have his name on a National Hockey League contract by week's end.
Blomquist, 20, was drafted by Washington in 1980. He completed his military service, then was torn, between a desire to play in the NHL, his parents' wish that he attend college and the Finnish federation's pressure to keep him home and assure his presence in the 1982 world championships that will be held in Helsinski.
"I appreciate his stubbornness," said Washington General Manager Max McNab. "I can understand the parental pull toward school and the federation wanted him to stay. But he wants to be a pro. We have agreed on all terms, but we thought it would be better if he came in, got all the facts, and saw Washington and Hershey. His agent (Don Baizley of Winnipeg) will be here, too, and see that everything is understood."
McNab said Blomquist was willing to start the season in Hershey, if that is the Capitals' decision. Many Europeans consider a minor-league assignment demeaning, then find the change in style too much to overcome when they move directly into the NHL.
"Of course, we hope he never sees Hershey," McNab said. "I think he's a real solid prospect to be an above-average defenseman in the National league. He's strong enough; he was their most physical defenseman in the world championships. He's very mobile, he moves the puck very well and he is a good right-hand shot."
McNab said, however, that the Capitals still were looking for an established defenseman with offensive credentials. "We need the guy who can grab it and run, and we need a guy on the point," McNab said. "Our passing is solid, but maybe we're not as fleet back there as we should be."
Winger Bengt Gustafsson, who played for Sweden's silver medalists in the world championships, underwent surgery to tighten his twice-dislocated shoulder and will not participate in the upcoming Canada Cup.