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.
First-year pro Patrick Wey hit Nashville Predators facepuncher extraordinairre Rich Clune along the benches on Sunday night. That was obviously unacceptable per the rules of gentlemanly conduct, so Clune challenged Wey to a fight and then knocked him out.
Before Saturday’s game, I visited Kettler Capitals Iceplex and asked players for their Olympic picks. With the Caps sending five players to Sochi (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Martin Erat, and John Carlson), I wondered where Washington’s non-Olympians would place their allegiances.
The Capitals had a hard time getting offensive opportunities early in Thursday’s Caps-Jets game, but a wild scrum in front of Ondrej Pavelec during the first period was a chance to change all that. Somehow, inexplicably, the Jets kept the puck from crossing the goal line. Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets’ 6’5″, 265-pound defenseman-turned-forward (or vice versa… I’m confused), finally broke out and got the puck in neutral while facing down rookie blueliner Patrick Wey, whom Big Buff hit rather rudely just ten seconds earlier.
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
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.
After completing his four-year career with NCAA powerhouse Boston College that included two national championships and four Beanpots, Washington Capitals 2009 fourth-round pick Patrick Wey signed an entry-level contract with the team in April.
Wey, the oldest player participating in last week’s Development Camp, also his fifth, didn’t play in Hershey late last year due to thumb surgery. Now he’s expected to begin his AHL career this fall with the Hershey Bears, but it won’t be easy. He’s got stiff competition. With newly signed David Kolomatis and Tyson Strachan, the Capitals currently have nine defensemen under contract set to start the season in the minors, and two more have signed contracts with the Bears, Patrick Wellar and Michal Cajkovsky.
When RMNB’s Ian Oland asked the 22-year-old defenseman if he thinks the logjam is good for his development, he said, “Absolutely. I need an opportunity to be competitive and fight for a spot and it’s good. No matter where I am or what organization I am in, the sooner I have to fight for a spot and play my best, the better. So I’m excited to fight for a spot against all these good [players].”