What’s Keith Aucoin’s reward for his first goal since October 2009 and a two-point night in a Washington Capitals victory in Toronto? A one-way ticket back to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.
Of course, this wasn’t as much an indictment of Aucoin as it was very likely a necessary salary cap move in preparation for Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. The 33-year-old’s $512,000 cap hit comes off the books, giving the Caps that much more room to make moves.
Aucoin was in the lineup over Mike Knuble over the weekend because Dale Hunter said he provides more “offense.” It took until the forward’s eighth game of the season for his first goal, and then his first assist. And though he has spent most of the past few years in the AHL, Aucoin was glad to score for the first time in the NHL since Oct. 24, 2009.
“It’s been about two years now, I think, since I last scored a goal,” he said, smiling. “It’s only been 10, 11 games, but it feels like forever and it was nice to finally get one and help the team win.”
If the Caps have room after the deadline, it’s very possible Aucoin makes a quick return, possibly for Tuesday night’s game against the New York Islanders.
Washington has $993,775 of cap allowance at the deadline, according to CapGeek. Putting Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injured reserve would mean it has roughly $7.6 million to play with.