Tom Wilson and Madison Bowey during Caps Development Camp in July. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

[Editor’s Note: Fedor has reported on Washington Capitals prospects for RMNB for the last three years. This year we’re proud to introduce his prospect rankings. The rankings will be updated three times during the season– with the goal of updating you on how prospects are or not progressing. The first edition of the rankings come on the second day of Rookie Camp, as Caps prospects jockey for position within the organization.]

The Washington Capitals have re-stocked their prospect pipeline over the past two NHL drafts, giving fans a wealth of new players to get excited about in addition to a few solid free-agent prospects signings.

The 2012 Draft is turning out be a sterling spot on George McPhee’s resume. After picking Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson in the first round, GMGM made a few strong picks in the latter rounds with Thomas DiPauli, Connor Carrick, Riley Barber, and Christian Djoos– all of whom have been invited to their junior national team camps and left good impressions.

Depth on defense is an area of strength for this crop of talent, with more than a few prospects ready to compete for roster spots as soon as they open.

Below, check out inaugural edition of the RMNB prospect rankings.

 
Player
Club/League
1. Evgeny Kuznetsov, LWTraktor (KHL)
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 198 lbs | Age: 21 | Shoots: L | Born in Chelyabinsk, RUS
Acquired: 26th overall, 2010 Draft | Rights held indefinitely
Fleet-footed, skilled, energetic player with top line potential. Excels in shooting and passing, making players around him better. One of the best offensive players in the KHL and annual All Star. While aggressive on the forecheck, defensive positioning could use work. Can be an efficient penalty-killer thanks to speed and tenacity. Needs to gain strength, become more consistent and take fewer penalties.
Potential: First-line scoring forward
2. Tom Wilson, RWPlymouth (OHL)
Ht: 6'4" | Wt: 210 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: R | Born in: Toronto, ON
Acquired: 16th overall, 2012 Draft | Contract expires in 2016 (RFA)
Stereotypical power forward who knows his role. A noted talker on the ice, will get the opposition mad and teammates pumped up. Brings intensity to every shift and ready to pay the price to make a play. Great hitter and fighter, Wilson has been a key to Plymouth's PP success with effective play in front of the net. For a big guy, his skating is good, as well as puck-handling, passing, and shooting. He will become even more effective if he can cut down on bad penalties.
Potential: Top-six power forward

3. Dmitry Orlov, DHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'0" | Wt: 210 lbs | Age: 22 | Shoots: L | Born in: Novokuznetsk, RUS
Acquired: 55th overall, 2009 Draft | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
Despite a relatively small frame, Orlov is an aggressive defender who is not afraid to go full-contact. After a surprising rookie year, Orlov missed most of the last year with the head injuries. If he can fully recover, Caps fans may expect him to be a lock on the blue line as early as next season. Capable of playing in all situations, Orlov is a good passer and has a bomb of a shot. He also possesses strong skating that allows him to jump on the rush when needed. He needs to work on getting more shots on net and getting his defensive zone play more polished.
Potential: Second-pairing offensive defenseman
4. Andre Burakovsky, LWErie (OHL)
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 179 lbs | Age: 18 | Shoots: L | Born in: Klagenfurt, AUT
Acquired: 23rd overall, 2013 Draft | Contract expires in 2016 (RFA)
Burakovsky is a great offensive talent: he can skate, shoot, and stick-handle well-- which is why he was considered a top-10 player before the draft season. His stock fell during the season due to his limited role on Malmo. If he can rebound this year, he may be a steal. His defensive game is underrated, but he's shown he's not a defensive liability. Needs to use his teammates more and make better decisions. Despite decent size, he's not a physical player, though he's a frequent participant in the post-whistle shenanigans.
Potential: Second-line scoring forward
5. Riley Barber, RWMiami (NCAA)
Ht: 5'11" | Wt: 185 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: R | Born in: Livonia, MI
Acquired: 167th overall, 2012 Draft | Rights expire in 2016
Pittsburgh-bred forward had a great freshman year. Barber is really hard to knock off the puck and doesn't have any glaring weaknesses. His positional play at both ends is strong. He makes smart decisions and can make brilliant passes. His shooting is pretty good too. The only question some have in regards to Barber is his agility.
Potential: Second-line two-way forward

6. Philipp Grubauer, GHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 184 lbs | Age: 21 | Catches: L | Born in: Rosenheim, GER
Acquired: 112th overall, 2010 Draft | Contract expires in 2015 (RFA)
Grubi was a victim of the lockout, having to play in Reading due to Braden Holtby getting time with Hershey. He was dominant in the ECHL and never missed a beat once he jumped to the AHL. Grubauer isn't as flashy as Holtby, but he makes effective plays and simple decisions. You often don't notice him-- everything he does seems to come easy. Efficient goalies like that are valuable: with the number of deflections and rebounds in a game, they can't be out of position. Grubauer does a great job of seeing one step further.
Potential: Above-average back-up

7. Michael Latta, CHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'0" | Wt: 215 lbs | Age: 22 | Shoots: R | Born in: St. Clements, ON
Acquired: Trade from Nashville, 2013 | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
Despite his small stature, Latta, acquired in the Forsberg/Erat trade, plays a gritty, hard-nosed style of hockey, resulting in a lot of PIMs. Known as an agitator, Latta isn't hesitant to drop the gloves even when he has a size disadvantage. He participated in 18 bouts in the AHL last year, two more than the whole Caps team had in the 2013 NHL regular season. A big hitter, Latta is also effective in the faceoff circle, can skate well, and possesses a strong defensive skillset as well as leadership qualities. For a bottom-six prospect, Latta is a solid playmaker.
Potential: Third-line center

8. Tomas Kundratek, DHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'2" | Wt: 201 lbs | Age: 23 | Shoots: R | Born in: Prerov, CZE
Acquired: Trade from NY Rangers, 2012 | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
Kundratek is another good offensive defenseman in the organization. He lit up AHL early in the year and that gave him a spot in the Caps line-up. He needs to get stronger and gain confidence, but the potential to be a full-time NHLer is there for him.
Potential: Bottom-four offensive defenseman

9. Connor Carrick, DPlymouth (OHL)
Ht: 5'11" | Wt: 190 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: R | Born in: Orland Park, IL
Acquired: 137th overall, 2012 Draft | Rights expire in 2014
Carrick's been one of the revelations of the second half of last season among Caps prospects. After a rough start to his OHL career, Carrick has improved greatly, showing passing and skating skills as well as underrated physical play and some rough stuff. He would be better off taking fewer penalties though, as his competitiveness sometimes hurts his team. Carrick has made an impressive case on making the US WJC roster at the Lake Place National Junior Evaluation Camp last year.
Potential: Second-pairing two-way defenseman
10. Nate Schmidt, DHershey (AHL)
Ht: 5'11" | Wt: 199 lbs | Age: 22 | Shoots: L | Born in: St. Cloud, MN
Acquired: Free agent signing, 2013 | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
Schmidt is a classic offensive defenseman who has turned from an unknown into one of the NCAA's best blueliners in just a few years. After signing with the Caps, Schmidt was sent to Hershey where he showed glimpses of offensive brilliance despite some struggles in his own end. He certainly needs more time to adjust to pro hockey and become a more well-rounded player, especially in terms of defensive awareness.
Potential: Second-pairing offensive defenseman

11. Madison Bowey, DKelowna (WHL)
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 195 lbs | Age: 18 | Shoots: R | Born in: Winnipeg, MB
Acquired: 53rd overall, 2013 Draft | Rights expire in 2015
Bowey is a strong, mobile defenseman. He isn't afraid to play physical and can really jump up on the rush, though he needs to improve his timing. In 2012-13, Bowey did a lot of work on his defensive work which, however, affected his stat line and probably led to him sliding a bit at the draft. If he can put defense and offense together, he will become a force as a pro.
Potential: Second-pairing two-way defenseman
12. Garrett Mitchell, RWHershey (AHL)
Ht: 5'10" | Wt: 188 lbs | Age: 21 | Shoots: R | Born in: Regina, SK
Acquired: 175th overall, 2009 Draft | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
Mitchell is small but feisty forward in the Caps prospect ranks. He excels in an energy role, forechecking, and aggressively attacking opponents. He is certainly not the most offensively gifted player in the world, but his grit combined with leadership qualities and speed won't go unnoticed by George McPhee, Adam Oates, and their staff. He finds ways to chip in offensively by crashing the net and skating hard, drawing comparisons to former Cap Matt Bradley. Mitchell is an agitator who will defend his teammates when needed.
Potential: Fourth-line energy player

13. Cam Schilling, DHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'2" | Wt: 205 lbs | Age: 24 | Shoots: L | Born in: Carmel, IN
Acquired: Free agent signing, 2013 | Contract expires in 2014 (RFA)
Schilling is a mobile shutdown defenseman who can shore up D when playing with a more offensive-minded partner. He doesn't have too many glaring weaknesses, though you'd probably want to see him be a bit more physical. Though it isn't his calling card, his puck-moving skill is decent. Schilling was one of the most effective defensive players in Hershey last year and is very close to making the next step in development.
Potential: Third-pairing defensive defenseman

14. Patrick Wey, DHershey (AHL)
Ht: 6'3" | Wt: 207 lbs | Age: 22 | Shoots: R | Born in: Pittsburgh, PA
Acquired: 115th overall, 2009 Draft | Contract expires in 2015 (RFA)
Wey has a lot in common with Schilling: both are good defenders with an emphasis on skating. Both had great college hockey careers, and both can contribute on the NHL level soon. Wey has more of a physical edge to his game, though it results in more penalties. Wey is yet to play his first pro game and will face tough competition from more experienced players in Hershey, but he's not far from being NHL-ready.
Potential: Third-pairing defensive defenseman

15. Zach Sanford, CWaterloo (USHL)
Ht: 6'3" | Wt: 190 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: L | Born in: Auburn, NH
Acquired: 61st overall, 2013 Draft | Rights expire in 2018
Sanford received mixed reports from the scouts before the draft, and as he moves to the USHL he remains a relatively unknown player. We know he's got the size, but needs to learn to use it better. He hasn't yet quite figured out how his large frame can allow him dominate smaller players. Once he does that, he may step to a whole new level. He's a gifted playmaker and can play defense, but it'll be interesting to see how smooth his transition to the USHL (and, next year, the NCAA) will be.
Potential: Second line two-way forward
16. Thomas DiPauli, C/LWNotre Dame (NCAA)
Ht: 5'11" | Wt: 185 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: L | Born in: Woodbridge, IL
Acquired: 100th overall, 2012 Draft | Rights expire in 2016
Despite a limited role in Notre Dame last season, DiPauli was able to gain a spot at the National Junior Evaluation Camp, and he made the most of it. He showed his strengths: great defensive awareness and an intensity that makes the life tough for opposing power plays. For a guy who plays a defense-first energy type of game, DiPauli is also a pretty good passer. He'd greatly benefit from adding more weight as to become more of a physical presence at the next level. The big question for DiPauli now is whether he can show some offensive prowess. All of Notre Dame's top forwards except for Islanders' Anders Lee will return to the Irish this season, so DiPauli will face tough competition for a spot on the team's top six.
Potential: Fourth-line energy forward

17. Stan Galiev, RWReading (ECHL)
Ht: 6'1" | Wt: 191 lbs | Age: 21 | Shoots: R | Born in: Moscow, RUS
Acquired: 86th overall, 2010 Draft | Contract expires in 2015
After a terrific junior career, Galiev had a frustrating rookie pro season, unable to hold on to a spot on the Bears' roster. still has the skill, and it's clear that he has the will to succeed, but he'll need to show more physical maturity next season to contribute on any level beyond the ECHL. He's working on that now. Another area of improvement for Galiev is his play without the puck; if he becomes more versatile all-around player, the chances are he'll stick with the Bears in some role.
Potential: Bottom-six skilled forward

18. Chandler Stephenson, LWRegina (WHL)
Ht: 5'11" | Wt: 195 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: L | Born in: Saskatoon, SK
Acquired: 86th overall, 2010 Draft | Rights expire in 2014
Stephenson is a strong two-way player. He had limited participation in 2012-13 campaign, but if he can stay healthy, he can contribute thanks to his good hockey IQ, passing and skating.
Potential: Third-line skilled forward

19.Caleb Herbert, CMinnesota-Duluth (NCAA)
Ht: 6'0" | Wt: 195 lbs | Age: 21 | Shoots: R | Born in: St. Paul, MN
Acquired: 142nd overall, 2010 Draft | Rights expire in 2015
Herbert had a down year in Minnesota-Duluth as the whole team had a year to forget. Herbert struggled to crack the top six at times and missed time due to injury. This year, the competition won't be any easier, but Herbert needs to get back to where he was in the 2011-12 season to keep his NHL aspirations alive. A great shooter, Herbert also has a mean streak to his game. Other aspects of his game still need work.
Potential: Fourth-line two-way center

20. Christian Djoos, DBrynas (SHL)
Ht: 6'0" | Wt: 154 lbs | Age: 19 | Shoots: L | Born in: Gothenburg, SWE
Acquired: 195th overall, 2012 Draft | Rights expire in 2014
Djoos is a true offensive defenseman. His size is far from the NHL standard, and that jumps out at you. Despite that, he has earned a steady spot in Sweden's top league, the SHL, thanks to his great puck-moving skills, smooth skating, and solid defensive positioning. Used as a powerplay quarterback on national junior team, he's shown an ability to make good decisions in the offensive zone, though you'd like to see him taking less chances starting the offense from the defensive zone.
Potential: Third-pairing offensive defenseman
  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    Nate Schmidt is the one to watch, along with Riley Barber. I feel bad for Galiev, he had some monster seasons in the QMJHL. Maybe he can bounce back and have a good season in Hershey this year.

    Also, who plays in a Caps sweater first Burakovsky, or Kutznetsov?

  • yv

    Good to have such list!
    Small corrections. I think Kuzya was acquired 26th overall, not 23d? Only know about it b/c of so many recent discussions about him and I mentioned in one comment that it was low risk/small loss for Caps on that draft position.
    Orlov draft, 2nd round 55th, seems mixed with T. Wilson.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I vote Kuzya

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Kuzya this year. Take it to #TheBank.

  • Fedor

    Done, thanks.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • yv

    I was sure that Kuzya, but when I read recent ‘rumors’, that he seeking 10 years 4M per and he will stay there, along with his arrival here!, than I beginning to doubt. On side note if he will play here on Kuzya-Nicky-Ovi line I think he will earn much more for 10 years than 40M, even after taxes.

  • bskillet

    We have some good ones in Wilson (fingers crossed) Kundradek, Burakovski, Orlov, hopefully Latta can surprise and you never know about the rest except Evgeni K. who I think should be put off for someone else’s problem, he’s not worth it and I’m pretty sure unbeknownst to some including him he’s not going to have a 100 goal season with 200 assists, if he can pull that one off then ok you win he’s worth it :)

  • BPThomas

    Damn, Kuzya put on some weight! Awesome list.

  • Igor Kleyner

    Pretty amazing that only 25% of these top 20 are from north of the border.

  • Fedor

    There’s no prospect in the world who is worth it by your standards.
    Cancel the Draft!

  • bskillet

    That was sarcasm, hey I want to see the Cup come here as bad as anyone I just think we have to make better decisions at the top.

  • Pete

    Watch 15 Monardo… Would have been drafted but suffered neck injury.

  • Fedor

    Selling low isn’t one and until Kuznetsov’s come over, it’ll be selling low. I’d rather wait and have a potential huge addition to my team than trade him for half or 20% of potential value.