Top 10 Washington Capitals ProspectsPosted on March 14, 2014 by Dave Stevenson
The Washington Capitals current players might be leaving
Capitals fans feeling quite empty and disappointed. The same cannot be said for
the Capitals prospects. Numerous Capitals prospects have emerged and improved a
lot this season. Here’s my Top 10: (Note- Orlov does not count as a prospect to
1. Evgeny Kuznetsov (forward) Evgeny has had a very frustrating season, but I think he has handled it about as well as anyone could have. I was curious how Evgeny would respond to the first huge speed bump to his career, and he passed the test with flying colors. Considering he had no understanding of the Capitals’ system and zero NHL experience (not even a training camp), he’s been impressive in his first two NHL games. I’ve been especially impressed with his composure and confidence. He’s going to be something special.
2. Andre Burakovsky (forward) To say that Andre Burakovsky has had a breakout season this season would be a huge understatement. Burakovsky has simply dominated the OHL in his first season in North America. In 54 games with the Erie Otters, he has scored 78 points (37 goals, 41 assists). He is a very fast and quick skater. Pair that with a deadly wrist shot, and you've got a forward who’s extremely fun to watch. His defense is a concern, but he is improving every time I watch him play. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he makes the Capitals’ roster to start the 2014-2015 season. Though if he sees 7 minutes of ice time a night, I’ll be passing out pitchforks and torches.
3. Tom Wilson (forward) I’m still very high on Tom Wilson. Despite playing extremely limited minutes on the fourth line, he has been impressive with that limited ice time and has become a regular on hockeyfights.com. I think he would greatly benefit from playing with more skilled players than, say, Aaron Volpatti. Hopefully his development has not been stunted, because this kid could be so much more than just an enforcer. He could be to the Capitals what Lucic is to the Bruins.
4. Riley Barber (forward) Every time I watch him play, I question how in the world he lasted until the 6th round of the 2012 NHL draft. In 34 games with the University of Miami (Ohio), he has 38 points (18 goals, 20 assists). He’s a very fast skater who has dedicated himself to being a two-way forward. Next year, he should start seeing some time on the penalty kill at Miami. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how he does.
5. Madison Bowey (defenseman) Madison Bowey is an extremely impressive defenseman who has the potential to be a very good top 4 defenseman. I think his stint as captain for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL has helped him to grow as a player and as a leader. In 59 games with the Rockets, Bowey has 49 points (15 goals, 34 assists). While his 83 PIMs are a concern, I love his physicality and aggressive style of play. He’s never afraid to challenge the puck carrier. He does, however, need to work on his positioning and must learn when it’s OK to join the rush and when it’s not OK. He also has to learn how to control his aggression.
6. Philipp Grubauer (goalie) He’s already spent some time with the Capitals this season, but Grubauer is still a very impressive prospect. He is extremely athletic and has a very quick glove. He still needs to improve his positioning, but I think he could easily be a solid backup for Braden Holtby next season.
7. Connor Carrick (defenseman) Even though Connor is clearly not ready to be an NHL defenseman, I think he certainly still has a ton of potential, particularly on offense. I’m not sold on his defense, but if he can be competent on defense, his offense should more than make up for it.
8. Nate Schmidt (defenseman) Nate Schmidt, like Connor Carrick, projects to be more of an offensive defenseman in the NHL. I’m impressed with how Schmidt looked in his 29 game stint with the Capitals this season. He held his own on defense and despite minimal minutes on the ice, he definitely added something to the offense. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of this year, so it should be interesting to see how that plays out.
9. Chandler Stephenson (forward/center) Chandler’s 2012-2013 season was cut short thanks to an injury, but he has come back very strong this season. He’s a versatile forward who can play either left wing or center. In 57 games with the Regina Pats of the WHL, he has 71 points (27 goals, 44 assists). He has very good instincts, is a very good skater, and is a solid two-way forward. He’s been the star of Regina’s penalty kill the past two seasons. On the right line, he could be a top 6 forward, but I see him more as a third line player. His lack of size is a concern.
10. Michael Latta (center) Michael has quietly had a solid season in Hershey. In 35 games with the Bears, he has 27 points (9 goals, 18 assists). He is good in the faceoff circle and tends to stand out (in a good way) on defense. I like him as a third or fourth line center. Basically, he’s Jay Beagle who can actually be somewhat productive on offense.
The Capitals’ top prospect list is quite forward-heavy, as 6 out of the 10 prospects on the list are forwards. 3 of the 10 are defensemen, and one of them (Schmidt) might not even be here next year. Only one of the top 10 is a goalie. What does that tell me? The Capitals need to do a better job drafting defensemen and goalies.