After closely following the Capitals preseason, it is of my opinion that both speedy winger Chris Bourque and rookie defenseman Karl Alzner will both be on the teams opening night roster.
The 22 year old Bourque is having a tremendously proficient preseason statistically, notching 2 goals and 3 assists in 4 appearances. Last night he tallied a primary assist on Tomas Fleischmann's power play goal and at only 5'8", he was a noticeable force making plays all over the ice.
Alzner was drafted 5th overall in the 2007 draft and his play thus far should have Los Angeles Kings fans questioning the selection of Thomas Hickey, who was picked 4th overall. Though Alzner has been held off the stat sheet, he has been very effective defensively. His calm and cool demenaor with the puck allows for a smooth up ice transition and he rarely turns pucks over. He has a very long reach and is extremely effective with his stick against the oncoming rush. Last night he showed some grit against Philly, getting aggressive with Flyers forwards in the corners. His passive nature on defense had some comparing him to Jeff Schultz, but last night he proved he can get physical. In 4 preseason games he has logged on average 19:35 minutes a game and seems to have chemistry with Capitals veteran Tom Poti. Also, Jeff Schultz has proven so far that he is able to play independently on the blue line and not rely on his partner to bail him out, which benefits Alzner.
Of the two, Alzner is more likely to make the club as it seems to be a numbers game at forward. Both players are waiver exempt and risk being assigned to Hershey so the Capitlas don't have to expose another player to waivers. Also you would have to consider the fact that Washington is teetering up against the salary cap and it will be a difficult task to fit both these players in their lineup. However, no matter what happens, both these young prospects will be first call ups when the time arrives.
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