Alzner, Bourque and Quintin Laing were cut Monday, leaving the Caps with 22 players (one below the league maximum) as they prepare for the start of the regular season Friday in Atlanta. Laing has to clear waivers Tuesday before he officially can join the Bears.
Bourque was one of the biggest surprises in camp. He had four goals and three assists in six games. Despite being just 5-foot-7, Bourque also displayed a willingness to throw his body around, even checking Zdeno Chara, who is 6-9, into the boards Sunday.
“He did do as much as he could,” Boudreau said. “When there might been have been any small doubt about Chris and his ability, we now know he can play in the NHL. There’s just no room.”
The fifth pick in the 2007 draft, Alzner played in five preseason games and had two assists Sunday. His demotion means the Caps have only six defensemen on the roster, but center Sergei Fedorov can help out in a pinch.
Sending Alzner to Hershey will allow him to play more, but it also will save cap space that could be used to acquire a player in February at the trade deadline. Alzner can make $1.675 million this season with incentives, and every day he spends with the Bears a fraction of his salary will not count toward the $56.7 million cap.
Boudreau said the move was not financially motivated.
“We think this formula worked for Mike Green and for Jeff Schultz,” Boudreau said. “They learned a lot during their time in Hershey no matter how long or short they were there. Plus we have six bona fide NHL defensemen right now. Karl’s going to go down there and play 25 to 27 minutes a night.”