Andre Burakovsky during last year’s rookie game. (Photo: Chris Gordon)
Preparation for 2014-15 NHL season begins this week as rookie camps kick off around the league. Capitals’ camp will start today, and will end next Tuesday with a 3PM rookie game that has been held every (non-lockout-shortened) year since the Caps’ re-build.
Andre Burakovsky is the best Caps prospect yet to play a game with the big club (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images).
With rookie camp upon us, RMNB presents the new edition of its semiannual prospect rankings.
Prospect rankings factor in a player’s potential, his probability to reach his ceiling (including an assessment of that player’s adaptation to NHL’s style of play), and physical and mental maturity.
The Caps prospect pool is considered top-heavy, with four Caps prospects ranked in top-50 league-wide by both Corey Pronman and NHL.com. However, there’s believed to be a significant drop-off in talent after that. While Capitals management has tried to make their prospect pool deeper, they’ve still got work to do. The Caps are considered thin at center in particular, underlined by auditioning their two top wingers for a center slot.
On Wednesday, Washington Capitals third-round pick Chandler Stephenson played in his first game as a Hershey Bear. His team battled the Norfolk Admirals, with whom they were tied in points for eighth and final postseason spot but held the tiebreaker, on the road.
The Capitals have signed forward Chandler Stephenson to an entry-level contract. According to a report by the Regina Leader-Post, the three-year contract is worth $925,000 per season, the maximum an NHL rookie can get.
Stephenson was originally considered a left winger, but he impressed at center for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League and for the Caps during last preseason. After missing time due to injury in the 2012-13 season, Stephenson had a huge breakout this year with 30 goals and 59 assists in 69 games, leading his team and finishing 14th in the league in points (89). He played in all situations for the Pats, logging a lot of ice time especially late in games.
Chandler Stephenson has been one of the most impressive Caps prospects this season (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)
The first half of the 2013-14 season has been mostly positive for Washington Capitals prospects. Unknowns like Andre Burakovsky and Chandler Stephenson have shown real NHL potential, while the elder statesmen of the pool like Nate Schmidt and Patrick Wey, both coming off tremendous college careers, have made steps up the Caps’ depth chart.
However, top two Caps prospects will wish their first half was better: Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s injuries have limited his action and Tom Wilson has had a hard time gaining a meaningful role with the big club.
The feel-good story of the season so far has been Stephenson, who had been bugged by injuries in the past, but is now thriving in a veteran role as an offensive go-to guy for his team. I’ve got more on these stories and our full top-20 ranking below. Continue Reading
Washington Capitals 2012 third-round pick Chandler Stephenson of the Regina Pats scored a pretty tricky goal in Wednesday’s game against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. In the third period, with his team down 5-2, Stephenson toe-dragged the puck around a Lethbridge defenseman before blasting it top-shelf.
Washington Capitals prospects Madison Bowey and Chandler Stephenson have been named to Team WHL for upcoming games against Team Russia in the annual Subway Super Series to be played in late November. A roster is not yet finalized: just one goaltender, seven defensemen, and 14 forwards have been selected.
Some players only play in just one game of the series, while others– those with a better shot of making the World Juniors squad– will get a two-game audition against one of the world’s best junior teams. Last year, the WHL’s roster consisted of 29 players: two goaltenders, nine defensemen and 28 forwards.
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.
For Caps prospect Chandler Stephenson, it’s easy to be overlooked. The Capitals made two selections in the first round before selecting him, so Stephenson may not be on every Caps fans’ radar. But the third round pick can play. He was the fifth overall pick by Regina in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft, he was invited to Canada’s Under-18 2011 selection camp with Tom Wilson, and he was Regina’s fourth best scorer last season. For those who went to Development Camp, you’ll recall Stephenson dropped the mitts with Max Iafrate after a few questionable hits by the latter.
On Friday night, Stephenson scored his first goal of the WHL regular season, and it was a big one. With 15.4 seconds left in the regulation against the Red Deer Rebels, the Saskatoon-born forward was first to a rebound and put the puck past the Rebels’ goalie Bolton Pouliot. It would stand up as the game-winner.
Forsberg speaks to the media after the scrimmage. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
The Caps prospects and invitees to Development Camp played their fourth scrimmage today, but once again some of the most interesting moves were made off the ice. First-round draft pick Filip Forsberg signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Capitals today, and goalie coach Dave Priorexpressed disappointment in prospect Steffen Soberg‘s 2011-12 season.
Despite the fact Forsberg has one more year on his contract with Leksand of the Swedish Allsvenskan League, he stressed that he wanted to commit to the team. “It was a dream come true,” he told CSN’s Chuck Gormley. “I got a good first feeling from the Capitals and I thought it was a good decision to get it done right away.”
Team White won the scrimmage 4-1, with White’s goals scored by David Civitarese, Connor Carrick, Barry Almeida, and Chandler Stephenson on a penalty shot. Team Red’s lone goal was scored by T.J. Syner.
Below the jump, check out Chris Gordon’s photos from the day.