A fair amount of news on some of the organization's top prospects, as the trio of Karl Alzner, Francois Bouchard and Josh Godfrey were all returned to their junior teams today and word is that Nicklas Backstrom likely won't be centering one of the top two lines when the first puck drops in Atlanta on October 5.
Tarik reports that the team "plans to start the season with Michael Nylander and Viktor Kozlov as the No. 1 and No. 2 centers," likely meaning that Nicklas Backstrom will start his NHL career skating on the right wing. Or does it mean something else entirely? Stay tuned.
By the way (and in case you're wondering), Kozlov has won a woeful 41% of his 647 faceoffs since the lockout.
Finally, thanks to Director of Media Relations Nate Ewell for clarifying that, contrary to somewhat popular belief, Backstrom does not have an "out" clause in his contract that would allow him to return to Sweden if the Caps want to send him to Hershey.
I assume Tarik means that Nylander will be the No. 1 center, but I hope he clarifies that.
Also, however bizarre this would be, I suppose it's possible that the rookie Backstrom could take faceoffs and that Kozlov could center the line. Or that Kozlov could cheat on every faceoff knowing that a better faceoff guy is ready when he gets thrown out.
1) That quickly puts to rest any speculation that Alzner would compete for a spot. Surprised he was returned so quickly.
2) Perhaps they felt things were too crowded back as it is?
3) No surprise that Backstrom won't be playing his natural center. As folks have already discussed, its hard enough adjusting to play in the NHL as a teen, and even harder to take on the added responsibility of playing that position and all it entails with face-offs and defensive zone coverage. This takes some pressure off the kid
im not worried about it, backstrom will be playing center by december, if not earlier. I hope fleischmann can earn a spot as rw on one of the top 2 lines, allowing clark to play on a line with gordon and petty. the three skated as a line all practice today and looked pretty darn good. also, there was no scrimmage but bourque was impressive in creating space and making a nice cross ice pass for a one-time goal during the drills. just thought id throw that out there.
finally, it was pretty cool watching nylander, semin and backstrom hang around after practice and work on their shooting and passing. those guys are seriously skilled and im sure everyone knows this already, but semin's shot is HARD.
btw, ovechkin signed my jersey. sweeeet!
That's awesome (about getting your jersey signed), and I agree that, ideally, the third line would be Petty-Gordo-Clark.
Thanks for the report!
If Flash scores 25+ goals for the Caps this year, they make the playoffs.
if flash plays 75 games this year for the caps, they make the playoffs. i think a better point total prediction for a player determining whether the team makes the playoffs would be backstrom, somewhere in the 60-70 point range, that would have to clinch it.
Since we're throwing out somewhat arbitrary benchmarks (and I don't disagree with either of the above), here's mine - if Olie plays 65 games, the Caps make the playoffs.
I'm using Flash's goal total because if scores 25 goals, that means lots of other things have happened (or not happened, in the case of non-injuries)... all of them good for the Caps.
Olie playing 65... The Caps have, I think, 13 back-to-back games. So that means Olie plays pretty much every night except for the back-to-backs...
so who's left from the youngsters that didn't play last year in the NHL, and haven't already been announced that they're going back to minors (sick run-on, no?)
think Bourque will earn a spot? maybe bump Flash?
I think a spot is almost Flash's to lose. Bourque has been impressive, but likely isn't NHL-ready. I'm sure we'll see him at some point this year, but probably not yet.
Dave Steckel is another guy with a great shot at making the Caps, but you can only have so many bottom six forwards, and with Pettinger and Gordon a lock for two of those spots, you're really looking at four spots (and a seat or two in the press box) for Sutherby, Laich, Clymer, Bradley, Brashear and Steckel, to say nothing of Fleischmann if he makes the team and/or Backstrom if he's not ready for top six minutes (and how's that for a run-on?).
And by "Flash's to lose," I certainly think he's capable of it, but right now and early on he may get an extended look in an effort to generate some external interest in him.
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