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Gustafsson won’t get his shot with Caps yet

- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009

His father, Bengt, starred for the Washington Capitals for nine seasons, but Anton Gustafsson's NHL odyssey will have to wait.

The former first-round pick was among 15 players the Caps cut Sunday in advance of the start of the Hershey Bears' camp Monday.

Gustafsson, the 21st selection in the 2008 draft, played in the Caps' first preseason game in Buffalo and recorded two shots.

"The only thing I saw is he needs work and we got better players," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He needs a whole year or two of experience at this level."

Left uncertain is where the 19-year-old center will go next. While many of those cut Sunday will suit up at Bears camp, Gustafsson could take that route or return to his native Sweden. Boudreau said he didn't know where the forward was going but was confident this camp was beneficial for Gustafsson.

"At least he knows now what's expected of him," Boudreau said. "Now he's experienced the whole camp feeling, and we think he's gonna be a real good player. He's just young right now."

The other players cut were Braden Holtby, Joe Finley, Josh Godfrey, Boyd Kane, Michael Dubuc, Joel Broda, Patrick Wellar, Zach Miskovic, Trevor Bruess, Jake Hauswirth, Dylan Yeo, Vladimir Denisov, Ryan Jasinsky and Todd Ford.

Perreault 'coming up big'

Mathieu Perreault knows he isn't the biggest player on the ice. Usually, he's the smallest.

But he keeps coming up with big performances, in camp and in his first preseason game of the year when he scored the overtime game-winner against Chicago on Saturday.

So the 5-foot-10, 174-pound center has earned the chance to stick around with the Caps for a little while longer.

"His energy, every day, is infectious. Every day he comes and he pushes everybody harder. He makes smart decisions with the puck. And he plays beyond his size," Boudreau said. "You keep wanting to give it the detractors, 'Oh, look how small he is.' Then he keeps coming up big."

Coming up big is exactly what he did against the Blackhawks, smacking a loose puck past Cristobal Huet with 12 seconds left in overtime to keep the Caps undefeated in the preseason going into Monday's game against Buffalo at Verizon Center.

But Perreault isn't delusional. He knows with a glut of veterans and talent in camp, the chances of him making Washington's roster are minute. Still, he has done enough to warrant more time with the big club.

"Every chance I get I try to make a good impression and make it harder for them to send me down," Perreault said. "I know there's not much room - there's probably no room - but I just try to make it harder for them to cut me."

Bourque report surfaces

According to a report in the Boston Globe, the Caps have told forward Chris Bourque that they will try to trade him if he doesn't make the team rather than send him back to Hershey.

Bourque said he didn't know and that if he had said that the paper would have quoted him. Boudreau said his focus is on trying to help Bourque earn a spot with the Caps.

"That's the first I heard about it," Boudreau said. "Me and Chris have never talked about that; it's all about making this team. And he's working his [butt] off to make this team. If that doesn't happen, who knows what's gonna happen?"