The Washington Capitals have tried to improve their physical play in recent years, adding more power forward prospects into their system. On Sunday, two of those prospects playing for the Caps’ AHL affiliate in Hershey — Michael Latta and Garrett Mitchell — combined for a big hit on Norfolk Admirals’ forward and Anaheim Ducks prospect Max Friberg. The hit was so powerful that it made the glass unhinge and fly into the Giant Center crowd.
At first, we didn’t have video of Joel Rechlicz’s decisive shootout goal to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 on Monday night, so we had to use our imaginations. Now, thanks to the magic of the Internet, the Capitals have graciously provided us evidence that this thing actually happened.
Rechlicz, the Caps’ fourth and final shooter, delivers the puck to crease before yanking it aside and backhanding it in– quite casually– to finalize the fight-filled fiasco of a game against the Flyers. Michael Latta and Garrett Mitchell fought earlier in the game, and we’ve got video below. We’ve also got another angle on Wrecker’s goal from RMNB reader Salvatore P., who was in Philly and was kind enough to share his view on our Facebook page.
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.
Varly and trainer Steve Saunders. (Photo credit: Power Train Sports Institute’s Instagram page)
It seems like such a long time ago, but a few years back the Washington Capitals would almost always have a Russian on the ice. Not Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Viktor Kozlov, or Sergei Fedorov. It was Semyon Varlamov. At least, when he wasn’t struggling with groin injuries.
Varlamov, who at times looked more like an Olympic gymnast than a traditional NHL goaltender, had the talent to become the franchise’s long-term solution in net. After replacing Jose Theodore and dominating in the 2008-09 playoffs, Varlamov failed to lock down the starting position the next season. Because of injuries.
Varly’s injuries were made worse after rehab starts in Hershey. The next season, Varly battled with Michal Neuvirth for the number-one spot and again would was plagued by the same issues, again making another rehab trip to the Capitals’ AHL affiliate.
The Caps eventually dealt Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for draft picks during the summer of 2011, allowing the Avs to take all of the risk with Varly after his cheap entry-level contract expired. Since then, the Samara, Russia native has found his groove. After averaging 30.7 NHL-AHL appearances from 2008-11 with Washington and Hershey, Varlamov played in 53 games with Coloardo in 2011-12 and 51 in 2012-13 combined with Colorado and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. So what changed?
Dustin Stevenson and Aaron Schmit settle their differences with their fists. (Video via Suzanne K.)
On Saturday, during the third and final scrimmage of the Caps’ Development Camp, the prospects turned the physicality up notch in front of a capacity crowd at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. There were three fights, each of them featuring a different combatants.
In the first period, 2009 sixth-round draft pick Garrett Mitchell got in his third throw-down of the week, challenging Group B’s Mike Bovin after a rough run. The two traded a few punches before Mitchell lost his balance and were separated by officials.
In the second stanza, Dustin Stevenson — a 6’5” behemoth — got in his second fight of camp and did so with a bit of flair, bending over and chucking his helmet through his legs before engaging Aaron Schmit. Stevenson got the upper-hand of the altercation, despite absorbing several heavy shots from Schmit at center ice.
Garrett Mitchell attempts to headbutt Scott Wietecha into submission. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
After losing the first scrimmage game, Group A turned the tables on Group B on Thursday to take the second match of Development Camp, 4-3, in the shootout.
Garrett Mitchell, David Citviarese and Danick Paquette tallied Group A’s goals in regulation, while Travis Boyd scored twice along with Reid Edmondson in Group B’s losing effort. Mitchell also added the only shootout goal.
Danick Paquette dishes out a hit along the boards.
After participating in workouts for first two days of the Capitals’ annual Development Camp, 19 of the organization’s prospects and 25 free agent invites took to the ice for the first intra-squad scrimmage of the summer on Wednesday.
Group B — wearing the red sweaters — controlled the play throughout the game at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, taking it by a score of 4-2. Caleb Herbert, Stanislav Galiev, Travis Boyd and Aaron Schmit scored for the winning team while Andrew Cherniwchan and Garrett Mitchell tallied in the losing effort.
“The thoughts were is they played hard,” Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters after the game. “I think there was a lot more physical contact than the last two development camps, at least early on for the first game. … They’ve gotten better every day, I expect them to be even better tomorrow and by Saturday I’ll be a pretty good game.”
Forward Cody Eakin, a third-round draft pick in 2009 and a veteran of three camps, attributed the style of play to the players desire to make an impression on Washington’s brass.
“They’re some big guys out here and everyone is fighting for a job, a second chance and a second look so it was pretty physical. Guys are stepping up and there wasn’t a lot of room out there.”
Mitchell at Caps Development Camp over the summer (Photo credit: BridgetDS).
Mitchell (left) speaks to Trevor Bruess and Wade MacLeod. Photo credit: Chris Gordon/CapsSnaps.com
The Capitals have some great middleweight, gritty forwards. Guys like Matt Hendricks and Matt Bradley. Steve Pinizzotto is also down on the farm in Hershey. Now you can add one more name to that list: Garrett Mitchell.
The Capitals announced today that they signed the free agent right wing to a three-year entry-level contract beginning next season. The 19-year old Mitchell became the latest player from the 2009 Draft to be signed by the Caps. Previously, Marcus Johansson (1st round, 24th overall), Dmitri Orlov (2nd round, 55th overall), Cody Eakin (3rd round, 85th overall) and Brett Flemming (5th round, 145th overall) all elected to sign their entry-level deals. That leaves only Boston College defenseman Patrick Wey (4th round, 115th overall) — a member of Team USA in the 2011 WJC — and Benjamin Casavant (7th round, 205th overall) without contracts. Suffice to say, a very bountiful and productive draft class for General Manager George McPhee.
Mitchell, picked 175th overall in 2009 Entry Draft, would seem to project as a future third or fourth line player in the NHL if he develops fully. According to the HF page about Mitchell, his upside (besides the physical aspects) are leadership, penalty killing and skating.