SPRINGFIELD, Va. - The Washington Capitals set their season-opening roster Monday, sending 2007 first-round draft pick Karl Alzner and Chris Bourque to Hershey of the American Hockey League and waiving forward Quintin Laing.
Alzner was the No. 5 overall pick last year. The 20-year-old defenceman signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Washington in May.
"We thought this was the best way for him to develop into what we think is going to be a great defenceman," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Alzner was given the news about Monday's move by Boudreau and general manager George McPhee.
"We did say that he'll play in the NHL for us at some point this year. It might be five games. It might be 65 games. I don't know. But we believe that he's going to be in the NHL this year," Boudreau said at the team's annual charity golf tournament.
"He's not going to purgatory. He's going to the nicest place in the American Hockey League, to a very good team with a very good coach," Boudreau said.
Bourque is a forward who is the son of Hall of Fame member Ray Bourque.
"Right now, there's just no room. If you look at our roster, where was he going to fit in at this stage? We know we have a bona fide guy who can be called up and eventually knock somebody out of a job. It just wasn't going to be right now at the start of the year," Boudreau said.
Laing appeared in 39 games for the Capitals last season, with one goal and five assists. If no other NHL club claims the left wing off waivers, the Capitals will send him to Hershey.
"What a tremendous teammate," Boudreau said. "And a better character guy, you can't find."
The moves trimmed Washington's season-opening roster to 22, one below the maximum. There are 14 forwards, six defencemen and two goalies.
Boudreau noted that forward Sergei Fedorov's ability to move back and play on the blue-line made the team comfortable about not carrying a seventh defenceman such as Alzner.
The Capitals, the Southeast Division's defending champions, begin the regular season Friday at Atlanta.