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Photo: Aly D.

On Friday, the Washington Capitals took a break from the norm and traveled up to Navy’s Annapolis campus for a team-building event. The Caps got a tour of the Naval Academy from the university’s hockey team, ate lunch in the dining hall with midshipmen, and even held an open practice at McMullen Ice Arena.

Reader Aly D., a hockey player herself, had the chance to attend practice and see her favorite team skate. After the players left the ice, she met basically the entire team, taking selfies with Mike Green, Braden Holtby, and Michael Latta.

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Washington Capitals Prospect Rankings: Summer 2014

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.

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The Michael Latta BioSteel GIFs

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Last week, Washington Capitals center Michael Latta was in Toronto with injured teammate Tom Wilson for Matt Nichol’s Biosteel Camp. The weeklong camp features many NHL stars (and Biznasty) working out with the renowned trainer.

Because the camp is remarkably good at marketing itself, they produced videos from each day’s training session.

Since the videos are #fancy and Latta is in some of them, I figured, hey, let’s GIF!

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Photo: Doug Pensinger

After spending most of 2013-14 with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, Capitals’ center prospect Michael Latta is now poised to gain a full-time roster spot in Washington next season. Acquired at the 2013 trade deadline in the infamous Forsberg-Erat trade, Latta had one goal and four points in 17 NHL games last season but left a good impression, winning 52.2% of his face-offs and playing an effective, physical game on the fourth line. Latta was one of the team’s best players at drawing penalties, leading the team in penalty differential.

After signing a two-year contract on July 1st, Latta is practically guaranteed a roster spot in the NHL next season.

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Photo: @Latta17

New Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan has made some polarizing moves on Tuesday. First, he signed Justin Peters to a reasonable deal to serve as Braden Holtby’s back-up. Then, GMBM unloaded a boatload of cash to Brooks Orpik’s door, which he has been roundly criticized because Orpik is old and bad.

Mixed in with those signings, the Caps announced that they have re-upped restricted free agent Michael Latta to a two-year, $1.15 deal. That’s worth celebrating.

Latta, the only remaining gem of the Filip Forsberg trade, is a straight-up good hockey player. Playing mostly with Tom Wilson and possession anchor Aaron Volpatti, Latta managed a better-than-it-seems 48.6 percent possession score. He also tallied four points — including the GWG against Detroit — and drew a ridiculous amount of penalties. The dude can penalty kill. He can also fight (poor Rinaldo). And he is a pest– a good one at that.

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Michael Latta: 2013-14 Season Review

Michael Latta came out of nowhere (Nashville’s farm system) to bring dynamism to the bottom line this season. Latta didn’t get a lot of ice in his 17 games, but should he get another crack at the bigs this fall I think we’ll find that Latta is a legit NHL player.

By the Numbers

17 Games played
7.4 Average time on ice per game
1 Goals
3 Assists
48.2% Shot attempt percentage during 5v5
50.0% Goal percentage during 5v5
9.1% On-ice shooting percentage during 5v5
92.7% On-ice saving percentage during 5v5

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Michael Latta Ribs Steve Oleksy About Birthday

We all had a sad when Steve Oleksy was sent down to Hershey a few weeks ago, but maybe we underestimated the entertainment value of his and Michael Latta‘s friendship. They’re both adept at the Twitter and they both love to joke around.

Yesterday was Oleksy’s 28th birthday, so naturally Latta did something special for his broseph.

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Washington Capitals Prospect Rankings: Winter 2014

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

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Photo: Kyle Mace

Twenty-two year old prospect Michael Latta was a throw-in during last year’s blockbuster Filip Forsberg/Martin Erat trade, but in his brief time with the Washington Capitals he has shown a lot of promise. He may yet prove to be the gem of that deal on the Caps’ end.

While playing on the fourth line with Tom Wilson earlier this season, Latta exhibited a sandpaper-like quality to his game. His talent for irritation drew six power plays for the Caps (getting whistled only three times himself) and put opposing players off their games night after night.

Latta is an accomplished fighter as well , dropping his gloves 85 times since beginning his career in juniors in 2007-08. He’s also contributed a big goal to the scoresheet, recording his first NHL goal against the Detroit Red Wings and giving the world the glorious #LattaFace in the process.

Recently, I spoke to Latta, now in Hershey, about his season to date.

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Photo credit: Alex Brandon

An hour before the Washington Capitals took on the Philadelphia Flyers, general manager George McPhee made a flurry of roster moves. John Erskine was moved off injured reserve and back on to the active roster, rookie defenseman Nate Schmidt was sent down to the Hershey Bears, and Michael Latta was recalled.

With Mikhail Grabovski out with the flu, Latta centered the Caps’ fourth line. He did so despite suiting up the night before in Hershey. Sunday was Latta’s fourth game in five days.

“I got called at 10 o’clock this morning,” Latta told CSN’s Al Koken. “I got on my horse, got in the car, got my gear at the rink, and headed up here.”

When asked if he was tired from playing the night before, Latta smiled and responded,”You always got a little adrenaline when you get called up here. So it’s okay definitely.”

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