Alex Ovechkin can score goals. Everybody knows that. His lamp-lighting ability is unmatched in this generation (sorry, Stamkos). And as Ovechkin takes aim for Peter Bondra’s Capitals franchise goal record (472, just 23 away), I asked myself how the Russian machine stacks up against the league’s all-time greats.
In an interview with SovSport on Saturday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was asked straight up if he wanted to return to Russia next year. Ya know, to debunk the rumor once and for all so we could all move on. Instead, Ovechkin left the door open for a possible return and even sounded like he has put a lot of thought into the idea.
The WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, home to the Caps’ second-round pick and World Junior champion Madison Bowey, have gone all-in on the Memorial Cup, acquiring Winnipeg Jets’ top prospect Josh Morrissey from the Prince Albert Raiders last month. Now the Rockets have made another all-star caliber addition to their already-impressive roster by trading two roster players and three draft picks for another Raider, Leon Draisaitl, third overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, in advance of Friday’s WHL trade deadline.
Capitals’ first-round pick Jakub Vrana scored two goals and one assist in five games at the World Junior Championship before his Czech Republic fell to Slovakia 0-3, failing to make the semifinals for the tenth straight tournament.
Editor’s Note — Throughout the season, Fedor will be posting scouting reports for Capitals prospects around the globe, bringing his thoughts on their performance as well as video evidence. First up is Jakub Vrana.
Washington Capitals 2014 first round pick Jakub Vrana plays for Linkoping of the SHL (Swedish Hockey League) and will play on the Czech Republic’s World Junior Championship team. He left a conflicting impression in the eight games I watched of him in October and early November. His skill was evident as he sometimes made veteran defensemen look foolish. However, he would go invisible for long stretches. On some occasions, it appeared that he let frustration get the best of him after missed opportunities on the offensive end and looked like a shadow of himself for the rest of the game. His first period was often his best as he sometimes looked tired in the second half of games and Linkoping’s coach Roger Melin would sometimes bench him in the third period. He clearly needs to be more aware defensively as sometimes he’s caught watching the play looking for a chance to get on the rush quickly instead of tracking his man in order to make sure there’s no scoring chance developing behind his back.
Still, his combination of speed and skill was too much for defensemen in this league. He also was always on the lookout to steal an errant pass or pickpocket a puck handler for a backbreaking goal. He’s not an overly physical player due to his smaller stature, but he also doesn’t put himself in bad position and get caught on big hits as well. If he can develop some consistency, he’ll be really hard to defend and potentially a game-changing player in the future.
Below the jump, I analyze every part of Vrana’s game with video evidence.
Madison Bowey and Team Canada will try to bring Wolrd Junior supremacy to Canada on home soil. (Photo: Hockey Canada)
On Friday, the 2015 World Juniors will be underway in Montreal and Toronto. Two groups of five teams will be battling for ten days to determine the strongest junior team on the planet. It’s arguably the most meaningful and most exciting annual international hockey tournament.
The Washington Capitals will not be well represented at the tournament unlike in years past. After the club decided to not release Andre Burakovsky in a controversial move, only three Caps prospects will be playing at the tournament: Canadian defenseman Madison Bowey and two Czech nationals, forward Jakub Vrana and goalie Vitek Vanecek.
On December 24, 2014, In Highlights, By Fedor Fedin
When Rick Nash scored the Rangers’ third goal — the eventual game-winner in their 4-2 defeat of the Washington Capitals — I noticed that the zone entry on that play was far from crisp. Nash lost handle of the puck around the left faceoff circle on the Caps’ side of neutral zone and then had to reach back to gather it back. He pushed the puck towards the blue line, and it slowly rolled as Nash was entering the offensive zone. He then fired a shot using John Carlson as a screen and beat Braden Holtby — the goal Peter described as a “back-breaker” in his recap.
Further review clearly shows: Nash was offsides on the play. It should’ve been blown dead.
Capitals fifth-round pick Shane Gersich stays hot. After a tremendous start to the season with Omaha of the USHL that has him third in the league in goals, the Minnesota-native forward got the call to represent the US at the World Junior A Challenge. He’s done well there too.