ovechkin-vacation

This weekend, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin flew to France to enjoy the lovely beaches of St. Tropez. On what he described as his vacation, Ovechkin hung out with former KHL player (CSKA) Ruben Begunts and Brooklyn Nets small forward Andrei Kirilenko (Maria’s cousin).

And for the first time ever, I saw Ovechkin dive.

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Photo: RRBG Photography

In May, Fedor broke the news that Slovenian center Jan Urbas had agreed to a try-out agreement with the Washington Capitals. In July, the six-foot, three-inch, 218-pound forward made his debut in a Caps jersey at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in the team’s Development Camp.

Skating on the first line between Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana (the Capitals last two first-round selections), the 25-year-old got a good look at the team’s future, mentoring two of the Caps’ biggest offensive prospects in the system. The line dominated throughout the wee as Urbas showed off his offensive flair and puck-pressuring skill. For a better idea of how he plays, think Jeff Halpern in his prime, but with less goal scoring ability.

First recruited by Steve Richmond (the Capitals’ director of player development) in Germany, Urbas got on scouts’ radars with his play in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Despite playing in the 7th highest league in the world (DEL), Urbas was solid in the Olympics, scoring a shorthanded goal and helping Slovenia make it to the quarterfinals for the first time ever.

I had the chance to talk to Urbas after Development Camp concluded. The center talked in great detail about his experience in the Olympics and the hero’s welcome he received when the Olympic team got home. He also shared his thoughts on Burakovsky and Vrana’s future–as well as an update on if the Caps had reached out to him with a deal.

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Offensive Defensemen and the Orlov Myth

Photo: Chris Gordon

First, a quick literature review.

“Orlov is a talented, smooth skating offensive defenseman who prefers to press the attack and create scoring opportunities at all times.”

 - Hockey’s Future. No date provided.

Q: The public at large in the U.S. knows only that Orlov is a D-man. Is he a “stay-at-home” defenseman or an offensive defenseman?

A: I would say it’s offensive… But we don’t know what the coach says in the locker room. He’s not a “stay-at-home” defenseman, that’s for sure. His attacking skills have actually led him to play some games as a forward. He scored twice that game.

- Evgeni Starikov, a Metallurg Novokuznetsk fan, to RMNB. January 2010.

“He loves to attack on the rush and this will lead to him earning points on a team like the Capitals (though they have become more defense-minded).”

Dobber Hockey. April 2012.

He’s a great offensive player. He’s very effective on the power play and everything. It definitely hurts when he’s not there.”

Cam Schilling to the Washington Times. December 2012.

Since even before Dmitry Orlov made his Caps debut back in 2011-12, we’ve heard that he’s an offensive defenseman, the eventual successor to Mike Green’s throne as the Caps blue liner most likely to attack.

I’m not so sure.

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alex_morgan

There were probably folks who had their hearts set on Alex Ovechkin winning a Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Award. I don’t know any of those people, but they probably exist. Probably in Fairfax County. Anyway, those people are all heartbroken right now. Ovechkin has lost the award for Sickest Moves (no, seriously) to soccer star Alex Morgan.

This is okay. Everybody breathe.

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Vrana (3 of 5)

Photo: Chris Gordon

After his Team Red lost to Team White 7-4 on Saturday, 2014 first-round pick Jakub Vrana was visibly disappointed. Sure, Vrana was just a few weeks removed from realizing the dream of getting drafted by an NHL team, but the 18-year-old couldn’t get past what happened on the ice.

When I spoke to Vrana afterwards, the Czech winger wasn’t his usual joking, smiling self.

Vrana still shared some interesting nuggets before departing. Vrana said he’s signed to a three-year deal with Linköping of the SHL and is unsure if he’ll be at Caps training camp in the fall. He also revealed some details about that fancy shootout goal he scored and his newfound love of American sandwiches.

My full interview with Vrana, who signed his entry-level contract with the Capitals on Tuesday, is below.

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bumper_sticker

It’s July, so you’re probably not getting your FDA-recommended 30 hours of hockey per week. That’s bad, but friend-of-the-blog Eric Rigsby has a way to get your recommended summertime hockey and help out a worthy cause.

This weekend at Skate Frederick, the 2014 Old Fat Bald Guys Hockey Tournament and Silent Auction will be held, and yes that’s the actual name. There will be a bunch of Caps and Bears memorabilia available, as well as ticket packages to pro and college games. And all the proceeds go to The Fisher House Foundation, a fantastic charity that provides housing and travel to military families while their loved ones get treatment.

Details are below. If you can’t attend, please help spread the word– especially if you or your friends are in the Frederick area.

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madison-bowey

Photo from our Instagram, which you should totally already be following.

The Capitals’ NHL blue line is the deepest it has been in years, and the farm is starting to get stacked with defensive prospects as well. Nate Schmidt, Patrick Wey, and Connor Carrick have each shown that they will soon be ready to take the next step. Also developing rapidly: 2013 second-round pick Madison Bowey.

During last week’s Development Camp, the 19-year-old was one of the most mature prospects out on the ice. He dominated Saturday’s scrimmage, creating a number of chances on the rush.

Bowey’s most creative effort came early, a ridiculous no-look pass that led to Nathan Walker’s goal.

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andre-burakovsky-nats-game-george

During last week’s Development Camp, the Washington Capitals took the prospects to a Washington Nationals game. Unfortunately, the game got rained out (so the Nats were spared a beatdown from the Orioles). Before the game was called, Caps 2013 first round pick, Andre Burakovsky wandered from the group and took a photo with George Washington, one of the Nats’ five racing presidents. I cannot tell a lie: this photo is majestic.

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CSN Washington Thinks You’re a World-Traveling Sex Fiend

CSN-washington

The Capitals page of CSN Washington’s site has some funny ideas about what’s trending among fans on social media. The “Capitals Pulse” widget scans for popular tags and topics on Twitter. You can see dev camp stud Jakub Vrana getting a lot of mentions because of his new contract. Alex Ovechkin’s up there too because he’s freaking Ovi.

And then, at right, the widget has picked out YOUR active hashtags.

hashtags

Welp.

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jakub-vrana-cheesin

Photo: Jeff Zelevansky

On Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Capitals announced the signing of 2014 first-round pick Jakub Vrana to a three-year, entry-level contract. The (adorbs) 18-year-old impressed in Development Camp, showing off exceptional speed, hands, and vision. He authored a nifty shootout goal that got national attention.

The signing does not mean much. Vrana is likely to be loaned back to Linkoping of the SHL for 2014-15 season unless something unexpected happens. The Czech winger was not selected during the CHL Import Draft held earlier in the month, so coming to North America for junior hockey seems unlikely– though he is eligible to play with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. In an interview with RMNB, Vrana seemed unsure if he’d attend Caps training camp during the fall. He is signed to a multi-year deal with Linkoping and the SHL season begins in early September.

Were he to play in the NHL, Vrana would make $832,500 per year. With Hershey Vrana would earn $70,000.

As we learned with fellow prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov however, just getting pen to paper can be an accomplishment worth pursuing. So someone give me a high-five and let’s party.

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