Revisiting Caps Development Camp 2016 (Video)

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Photo: Amanda Bowen

The Washington Capitals closed out their 2016 Development Camp on Saturday with a morning scrimmage in which Team White prevailed. After covering the entire week, I came home not only with RMNB’s biggest gallery of photos to date, but also a short film in the works.

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alex-ovechkin-sochi

Photo: @Sochi2014

Making the rounds on Hockey Tumblr this week is an image from 2014 I have never seen before. It’s a photo, published by the official Sochi Olympics Twitter account, of (what Tumblr claims to be) Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin riding on the back of a buggy. But that description does not do the pic justice. No, it does not.

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Photo: @kuzy092

Nearly 14 months ago, Evgeny Kuznetsov’s wife Nastia gave birth to the couple’s first child, an adorable baby girl named Ecenia. “I am a dad,” Kuznetsov wrote in Russian, the night Ecenia was born. “Thank you for my daughter, my love.”

Fast forward to Monday, Kuznetsov posted a photo of one-year-old Ecenia wearing a diadem, cape, and a shirt which has the phrase “I’m the boss” on it. Kuznetsov captioned the photo “Царевна👼🏼.” According to RMNB’s Igor Kleyner, the word translates to tsarevna, which means the daughter of tsar or the daughter of a king.

Ecenia is Evgeny’s princess.

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Photo: Maddie Meyer

Beyond 2012 fourth round pick Thomas Di Pauli, the Capitals have only two other targets they’re looking to lock up: restricted free agents Marcus Johansson and Dmitry Orlov. Johansson, who signed a one-year, $3.75 million arbitrated deal last summer, opted for player-elected arbitration again today before the 5pm deadline. This upcoming season is Mojo’s last team-controlled year before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He’s due another raise.

Meanwhile, talented Russian defenseman Dmitry Orlov did not opt for arbitration and will continue negotiating with the team.

The news was first reported by the Capitals’ Mike Vogel.

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Photo: @Capitals

Last year, the Capitals took a flier on two-time Stanley Cup champion Mike Richards, whose career was derailed in Los Angeles by a drug possession charge (which was later stayed). Richards, who had to be reinstated to the league by Gary Bettman, signed a pro-rated one-year, $1 million contract on January 16, 2016.

In 39 regular season games with the Capitals, Richards scored only two goals and had a dreary 4.3% shooting percentage. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Richards was a strong penalty killer and had a 51.8% shot-attempt percentage at even strength, tilting the ice in the Caps’ favor when he was on the ice. During the playoffs, Richards delivered several big hits and even bigger clears, receiving 15 to 20 shifts a night from Barry Trotz.

Despite being a permanent part of the Caps’ line-up at the end of the year, Richards, an unrestricted free agent, appears likely not to return. Desiring an improved bottom six, GM Brian MacLellan non-tendered RFA Michael Latta, traded for third-line center Lars Eller, and signed forward Brett Connolly, shaking up the team’s third and fourth lines. Jay Beagle, the leading candidate to be the team’s fourth-line center, has two years remaining on his three-year, $5.25 million contract.

On Tuesday, the Capitals announced that Connolly will wear Richards’ number 10 next season. That’s kind of awkward if you ask me.

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Photo: @Capitals

Lars Eller finally put on a Washington Capitals jersey and met with DC press for the first time Tuesday morning — eleven days after Caps GM Brian MacLellan dealt two second-round picks to acquire him. The Caps plan to use the former Canadiens forward exclusively as the team’s third-line center, replacing Jay Beagle and Marcus Johansson who both played the position at different points last season. Eller was excited about his new opportunity.

“Honestly, it’s been nothing but positive since we got here,” Eller said, after putting his new number 20 jersey on. “I’m sure it’s going to be a great fit for me and my family.”

Eller revealed that Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was the first player to reach out via text, despite being on vacation in Europe. “I don’t think there were any smiley faces,” Eller said with a laugh, when asked if Ovi included any of his trademark smilies.

The 27-year-old Dane is under contract for the next two seasons and plans to move his wife and young daughter to Washington before the season starts. Eller’s three-year-old daughter Sophia had a special request. “She asked for a pink room so I’m going to try and get her that at least.”

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oshie-photo

Photo: @TJOshie77

After becoming a shootout hero in the Olympics, TJ Oshie has become the National Hockey League player most synonymous with America. So it was only appropriate that on the United States’ 240th birthday, the Capitals winger wished the hockey world a “happy fourth.”

To do so, Oshie posted a personal photo of his locker stall from the Sochi Olympics.

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Capitals 2016 Development Camp in Photos

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

The Washington Capitals hosted their annual development camp for prospects two weeks earlier this year – arguably the busiest week of the offseason – to better accommodate prospects’ demanding schedules over the summer.

Three days after the 2016 NHL Draft, Caps prospects, which included the likes of top prospects Madison Bowey and Riley Barber as well as every pick from the 2015 and 2016 drafts, took the ice. The prospects learned system play and did drills to allow the front office to evaluate their skills and get baseline numbers. The prospects also participated in off-ice programs to learn what it takes to be a professional in the league. There was also a team-building rowing event held near Georgetown.

Lost in the headlines of qualifying offers, huge trades, and the first day of free agency, talented 2015 first-round pick Ilya Samsonov made his Caps debut, working feverishly with legendary goalie coach Mitch Korn. “[Camp] was really hard,” Samsonov said through a translator. “So many shots.” Forward Stan Galiev even made an appearance several days to help translate. Over the next year, the culture-shocked Samsonov, who only knows a handful of English words, will Skype once a week with Barry Trotz’s son Tyson, to better learn the language and communicate with coaches.

On Saturday, Caps Development Camp concluded with a scrimmage in front of a mostly full Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where Team White picked up a fun, but insignificant win.

That’s because, as the prospects know all too well, the real games and real tests are to come. Only a handful will suit up for the Washington Capitals someday.

Below are my photos from every day this week.

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dmitry-orlov-bobblehead

Inova Blood Donor Services holds blood drives at Kettler Capitals Iceplex every few months. Their next event is scheduled for Saturday, August 6 from 7AM to 5PM. This time around they will be giving away Dmitry Orlov bobbleheads and a Capitals t-shirt to anyone who donates blood.

For those who interested, you can sign up for an appointment here. Not only will you help save a life, but you’ll also go home with a collectible of the Caps’ best Russian defenseman.

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brad-malone

Photo: Harry How

On Saturday night, the Capitals made what could be their final unrestricted free agent signing of the summer, inking center Brad Malone to a one-year, two-way contract. Malone, who dropped the gloves 9 times in 57 games last season for lowly Carolina, is likely to spend the entire season in Hershey.

Malone does have some fascinating history with two current Caps. During the 2007-08 season, Malone played with Taylor Chorney and TJ Oshie on the University of North Dakota.

Brian MacLellan also inked three other AHL players on Friday, the first day of free agency, including goaltender Joe Cannata (who will serve as the team’s starter ahead of Vitek Vanecek), defenseman Darren Dietz, and forward Christian Thomas (a lifting buddy of Brett Connolly and Tom Wilson’s).

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