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Photo credit: @JessieMartin

The Washington Capitals had a few pleasant surprises from their prospects last year. Tom Wilson showed the kind of offensive output everyone had hoped for. Connor Carrick displayed NHL potential. Garrett Mitchell proved he’s NHL-ready in Hershey. But the “Performance Way Over Expectations” award this year goes to Riley Barber, who had a tremendous rookie year at Miami University. Barber was named CCHA Freshman of the Year and played on the top line during the USA’s surprising gold medal win at World Juniors.

A player who wasn’t drafted until the sixth round has somehow turned into a dominant college hockey player.

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Photo credit: @JessieMartin

After completing his four-year career with NCAA powerhouse Boston College that included two national championships and four Beanpots, Washington Capitals 2009 fourth-round pick Patrick Wey signed an entry-level contract with the team in April.

Wey, the oldest player participating in last week’s Development Camp, also his fifth, didn’t play in Hershey late last year due to thumb surgery. Now he’s expected to begin his AHL career this fall with the Hershey Bears, but it won’t be easy. He’s got stiff competition. With newly signed David Kolomatis and Tyson Strachan, the Capitals currently have nine defensemen under contract set to start the season in the minors, and two more have signed contracts with the Bears, Patrick Wellar and Michal Cajkovsky.

When RMNB’s Ian Oland asked the 22-year-old defenseman if he thinks the logjam is good for his development, he said, “Absolutely. I need an opportunity to be competitive and fight for a spot and it’s good. No matter where I am or what organization I am in, the sooner I have to fight for a spot and play my best, the better. So I’m excited to fight for a spot against all these good [players].”

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nate-schmidt-gopro

“Hey, GoPro,” Tom Wilson joked to Washington Capitals prospect Nate Schmidt during a Development Camp practice last week. “Will you settle down? You look like an iRobot out here.”

Schmidt, the University of Minnesota defenseman who signed a two-year deal with the Caps mid-way through last season, stood out on the ice. A tiny GoPro camera was affixed to the top of his helmet. Monumental Network had approached the defenseman earlier in the week asking him to try out the camera to give fans a creative and inside look into drills. Lucky for us, he agreed.

The video is fascinating. It shows the speed of the game and illustrates in vivid detail the tiny decisions each player makes and how they affect the game.

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Photo credit: WHL Images

Washington Capitals’ 2012 seventh-round pick Jaynen Rissling, who impressed last year thanks to his grit and character, will return to his home province of Alberta for one more year with WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

This year will be crucial for the development of the 6-foot-4, 223-pound defenseman as he’ll be playing not only for his team, but also for an entry-level contract with the Caps. And it’s gonna be a special year for him.

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Photo credit: @JessieMartin

Andre Burakovsky has been in North America for about a week, but he’s already made himself a new best friend. Rooming with fellow first-round pick Tom Wilson, the Austrian-born Swede was introduced to mac and cheese as he bonded with his new Canadian buddy. Well, RMNB’s Ian Oland asked Burakovsky if his bestie had him try any other new foods while he was here. The forward’s English isn’t perfect, but his answer was.

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Development Camp FanFest (24 of 28)

Caps prospects Tom Wilson and Madison Bowey celebrate the red team’s 6-4 scrimmage win. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

The Washington Capitals’ annual summer Development Camp for prospects and free agent invitees came to an end on Saturday. Fans packed Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the final scrimmage, an equipment sale, and an autograph signing from Steve Oleksy.

This was Stevie O’s first FanFest after his wild rise this past season and the level of fan attendance impressed the d-man.

“To see the support here at Kettler this weekend for the Fan Fest and watch the up and coming prospects really shows how passionate they are,” Oleksy told reporters. “When you walk into a building like this mid-summer and they’re at maximum capacity it’s a great feeling as a player.”

Below, take a look at my pictures from the day — you’re really just here for ones of Tom Wilson anyway.

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travis-body-shoutout

GIF by jaybeagles

The other day Tom Wilson was mic’d up during a Development Camp practice. Washington Capitals prospect Travis Boyd found out about it and — this is a first — asked for a shout-out to his Twitter account. Since he’s using one of Chris Gordon’s photos as his avatar, you might as well give him a follow at @TBoyd93.

@TBoyd9…3?

@TBoyd93.

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Washington Capitals defensive prospect Garrett Haar has announced on Twitter that he will not return to Western Michigan University, where he has spent the last two years since he was drafted by the Caps.

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Madison Bowey (3 of 3)

Bowey defends during a scrimmage. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

Bowey defends during a scrimmage. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

The latest incarnation of Capitals Development Camp doesn’t have the star power of years past — there are no sure-fire stars like Nick Backstrom or exotic Russians like Evengy Kuznetsov. Still, there are surely some future pros skating at Kettler this week. In addition to the obvious ones — fellow first-round picks and polar opposites Tom Wilson and André Burakovsky — there are guys like Madison Bowey, a second-round selection (53th overall) at last month’s draft. Bowey is a fast, two-way defensemen who’s acquitted himself well playing for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL and Team Canada in the World Juniors. He’s also a pretty nice dude. Following the second-to-last scrimmage of Dev Camp, I chatted with the 18-year-old.

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The Tom Wilson Wipe-Out GIFs

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It was game six of the series against the New York Rangers, just the second-ever game in Tom Wilson‘s NHL career, and one of his skate blades has just popped off. Wilson hobbled back to the bench, courting bunches of GIFs and instant fan adultation. At the time I didn’t even realize skate blades could just fall off like that, but I guess when you’re a six-foot-four, 217-pound man-mountain, simple things like skating and checking can test the mettle of your gear.

On Thursday at Development Camp, Wilson’s equipment rebelled again, this time forcing the Caps prospect to wipe out at center ice while attempting a sharp turn. Like a bowling ball out to pick up a spare, Wilson’s body tumbled heavily towards the boards, stopping only after knocking over Caps video coach Brett Leonhardt. No one was hurt (woot) and laughs were shared by all.

And now: GIFs.

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