On Friday, with the return of Tomas Fleischmann and Sergei Fedorov, the Capitals won't be able to afford the services of Karl Alzner. There's no argument over whether or not Alzner deserves to be in the NHL, the argument is how to handle the situation.
Here's some of the scenarios that are are being talked about across the Caps blogosphere.
#1: Convince Mrs. Nylander to waive Michael Nylander's no-trade-clause
Joking aside, Michael Nylander hasn't hinted at any desire to leave the Washington area. "I play here. That's how I'm approaching the situation. That's the way it's going to be," he told Tarik El-Bashir in November. Despite the fans displeasure with Nylander's skate circles first, shoot later style, his playoff experience is more than worth keeping him around for.
Probability of a Nylander trade: Not likely
His NTC and desire to stay put in Washington put this possibility out of reach. Nylander critics would love to see him go, but the depth that he adds to the Capitals center position is too hard to pass on with the coming months and playoffs. I'm not expecting a Nylander trade and fans shouldn't either.
#2: Waive Erskine, send Fehr to Hershey
This possibility was put together by JP of Japers Rink.
With Fleischmann's return, Fehr is sent to Hershey and Erskine is waived.
It makes a great deal of sense and I think JP is right on the money. Fehr hasn't been putting the puck in the net while Fleischmann has been, when he was healthy. Erskine isn't a huge loss if he is claimed and a tough-guy coming off a concussion might not be the most prized pick-up in some GM's minds.
#3: Poti moves to LTIR, Alzner stays so long as we have the space
Given the Capitals recent struggles with keeping players healthy, Alzner will stay with the Capitals so long as a there is an injured player freeing up cap space. I know this sounds like "wishing ill" on others but it's possible. While Poti is on LTIR, the Capitals can think of a plan to keep Alzner rather than rush to make a trade.
The Caps have great depth in every position and probably won't sacrifice that depth to keep Alzner around. So long as there are injured players not taking up cap space, Alzner will play in Washington. If Poti returns and there isn't any injured players to free up cap space, Hershey fans can expect to see Alzner in brown again, at least until someone gets hurt.
#4: Send Alzner to Hershey
If the Capitals elect to not move Poti to LTIR, the only way to keep Alzner is with a roster move. If the Capitals are not willing to move players, then the player who will be moved is Alzner. At the beginning of the season the Capitals weren't compelled to rush Alzner to the NHL and felt he could mature there just as Mike Green did.
Yeah I have two options marked as probable but, here's why. If the Capitals don't move Poti to LTIR then the Caps must make a move or send Alzner down. As mentioned before, the Capitals have a great amount of depth and the team may not be willing to part with players just to keep Alzner on the roster.
In my honest opinion, the likely candidate is number three, moving Poti to LTIR. It requires no roster moves and won't require Poti to rush back from injury. The team has managed quite well with a handful of call-ups. There's no sense in rushing a hurt player back when the current squad is this successful. As much as I'd love to have Poti back now, I'd rather have a healthy Poti later, ready for a cup run.
Rather that rush a trade that might hurt us in the future, the Capitals should opt to be patient. While Poti is on LTIR, GM George McPhee will be able to thoroughly assemble a trade or roster move that benefits the team and Alzner.