The Washington Capitals inched closer to the 23-man season-opening roster limit yesterday by placing free agent forward Alexandre Giroux on waivers.
The move leaves Washington with 24 players on the active roster; the club has until 3 p.m. today to make a final move.
The fact only Giroux was exposed to waivers means the team is left with one of two options to get down to the roster limit: place a player on injured reserve, meaning he is lost for at least seven days, or send one of its two players with rookie eligibility to Hershey in the American Hockey League.
After the last exhibition game Sunday afternoon, the team revealed its number of injured personnel had risen to five, with the nature and location of each injury a closely guarded secret. Those reported to be injured are defenseman Brian Pothier, centers Dainius Zubrus and Jakub Klepis and wings Matt Bradley and Matt Pettinger. It is believed Zubrus and Pettinger are the most seriously injured and one or both are probable IR candidates.
There is no information available about the injuries to either Zubrus or Pettinger, but Zubrus’ area of discomfort might involve a knee. He had surgery on one of his knees in April and said the recovery time frame was five months. However, he has reported pain — apparently severe enough to keep him off skates other than routine practice — and had the level of his pain medication increased within the past week.
He thought he had recovered enough to test his knee during a game against Philadelphia on Friday night. He finished the game but was limping badly on his left leg afterward.
The two rookies on the roster who do not have to clear waivers in order to be sent down are defenseman Mike Green and Klepis. Green was expected to perform well in camp but the level of Klepis’ play has been a pleasant surprise, making it difficult to finalize a roster.
Green was expected to be an addition to the Caps’ defense corps after starring in Hershey last season, but there have been two developments that might cost him a roster spot to start the season. First, forward Ben Clymer has been moved back to his natural spot on defense and played well. Second, free agent John Erskine adds a physical presence and has played steady enough to take a second spot.
Klepis has been involved in a multi-player battle for the final center position. He is second on the team in scoring this preseason with a goal and five points and has displayed excellent chemistry with wing Richard Zednik — a player who is not easy to match up with.
Ovechkin nabs ace on course
Less than a week after throwing out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin now has his first hole-in-one.
The 21-year-old reigning NHL rookie of the year aced the par-3, 160-yard fourth hole at Springfield Golf and Country Club yesterday. His shot landed short of the green but rolled in.
“This was my first time playing golf,” he said, adding: “I guess it’s easy.” He wore a characteristic mischievous wide grin as he made the last statement.
“Maybe I would do better if I played golf, not hockey,” he said. “It was lucky. I have to play again now, see how I can do.”