Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle were sent to Hershey today. Both are surely disappointed as both had excellent camps and were pushing for a spot. Expect both to be early callups for injuries this season.
Those moves leave the Caps at 31 players now (18 forwards, 10 d-men, 3 goalies) with about 5 days left to make it to 23. Below you can find my opinion of what will happen but the Peerless Prognosticator also gave his feelings earlier, check it out.
With Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann both injured you could effectively call it 16 forwards. Nylander is a wild card as the team obviously doesn't want him there but they can't seem to dump him. It will be interesting to see what happens there.
I would be surprised if they keep more than 7 defensemen to start the season. That means that more than likely we will see Alzner, Collins, and Sloan in Hershey before the Bears opener. The only way any of them make it is if either the Caps decide to scratch 2 defensemen every night or they make a trade which seems unlikely at this point.
Goalies is pretty straight forward...either Neuvirth or Varlamov will be in Hershey soon. The smart money is on Neuvy as Varly proved his NHL abilities in the playoffs.
Forward is where the waters get murky. With Fehr and Flash out (and assuming 7 D and 2 G) there are 16 open spots. Taking the free agent signees and last season's holdovers you can assume that 13 spots are already filled (including Nylander) that leaves 3 spots remaining.
You can't look at overall talent and ability and just assume they will make it....or Perreault probably would have stayed. What you need to look at is the roster make up and what they need.
With Fehr and Flash out there is a need for a complementary scorer. With Brashear gone there is a need for a tough guy. And the last spot is really the wild card spot.
In my opinion you will see Chris Bourque take Flash's spot and contribute on the 2nd/3rd line and maybe get some PP point time on the 2nd unit. Bourque is a talented high energy player that can score a few goals for you. And he is unlikely to clear waivers unless of course he is injured and a question which he is right now.
IF he is too injured to play and they decide to keep someone else and either IR him or send him down then I think Giroux gets his shot but I wouldn't count on it.
That leaves 2 more spots. My money is on Quintin Laing to be the wild card player. He can play 3rd/4th line style, is great in the locker room, and will put everything he has on the ice everyday. The perfect kind of player to inspire others. He WILL remain in Washington.
The last spot is a surprise to some. Brandon Sugden. While some figure he is a lock to get sent down I say not so fast. Brashear is gone and there is NO ONE left to really handle the fighting and protect the Ovi's, Semin's, and Nicky's of the world. Sure Bradley and Lainger can play physical but drop the gloves against the tougher guys...not likely. Sugden is still in camp for a reason. He can be the 14th forward and play every other game or so on the 4th line and be there for insurance.
Don't be surprised if that does happen and he stays.
As I mentioned before Nylander's situation is confusing. IF they are able to move him then I think Aucoin will be a Cap for a while. If not then Aucoin returns to Hershey (assuming he clears waivers).
I don't see how they move Nylander at this point but who knows, stranger things have happened.
So to sum up everything I said above expect to see Keith Aucoin, Alexander Giroux, Karl Alzner, Sean Collins, Tyler Sloan, and Michal Neuvirth in Hershey before next weekend.
Also keep in mind though that the Caps have to get under the cap and last year they never carried the full 23 healthy bodied roster. So if that issue presents itself again you would likely see Sugden and maybe Laing or Bourque also sent down.
They have until the 30th to get down to 23 players....expect the moves to come early in the week.