This means the Caps are below the maximum of 23 players for opening night. Bourque was facing an uphill battle to make the roster, and he did about as well as he could in camp to make his case. Still, there are 14 forwards on one-way deals (15 counting Laing), so keeping him as the 15th guy would have been a waste of money.
Which is a nice segway to Alzner. By sending him to Hershey to start the season, the Caps can save cap space to put towards a possible trade acquisition in February. Every day that Alzner isn’t on the roster, 1/187 of his $1.675 million salary does not count against the cap. Also remember that because of the weird loophole in the CBA this season, there is no bonus cushion for contracts like Alzner’s. That’s why the team would have had to bank on all of his $1.675 million counting against the cap this year if he was with the team from Day One, instead of just his $875,000 base salary. Anaheim (Bobby Ryan) and Boston (Bake Wheeler) are just two of the other teams that are weighing similar cap hit vs. talent concerns. While Alzner will play more minutes with the Bears, it is hard to argue that he didn’t look ready during the preseason.
While his coaches and teammates love him, Laing was almost certainly going to be caught in the numbers game from the beginning. The Caps have to hope another team doesn’t scoop him up in the next 24 hours, and then he can join Bourque in Hershey on the “candidates to be the first injury call-up” list.