Monday, July 07, 2008

Kids Are Back In Town

The Washington Capitals start their development camp today. Some are getting their first look at the Capitals' system, and some getting another chance to turn some heads and look to graduate to training camp in a month or so.

As always, the camp will take up considerable space at the Kettler Iceplex in Arlington Va. Most of the practices start every day at 10 AM and are open to the public. However on Saturday July 12 (final day) the intersquad scrimmage will be at 10:30 AM with the Caps' Fan Fest scheduled all day at Kettler. Should be a packed house.

The big names to watch for are Karl Alzner and Simeon Varlomov. Alzner earned WHL Player of the Year honors and the WHL’s Defenseman of the Year last season. He also signed an entry level contract with the Caps ensuring that he will stay for training camp. Possibly even a spot since Eminger has departed.

Varlomov is the Caps' future in net. He is one of the many reasons Cris Huet could not be signed here. Varlomov spent all of last year in Russia and has expressed a deep desire to play in the NHL. He was so excited that when he was first selected in the '06 draft he promptly painted the Capitol dome on his helmet.

MIA: Joe Finley and Anton Gustafsson. Both have good reasons to miss camp. Finley would have to pay his own way here to keep his college elgibility. Since he experienced camp last year, he may just be saving his dollars for when he signs an entry level contact.

Gustafsson still has some lingering injuries that will keep him grounded in Sweden. According to Nate Ewell, Capitals' Director of Media Relations, the Caps had consider bringing him in anyway, but decided it was best for him just to stay home and heal up.

Other noteables:
  • Two players, John Carlson and Stefan Della Rovere, both have 1990 birthdays. Now I feel old.

  • Four players at this year's camp have moved up through the system all the way from the South Carolina Stingrays.

  • Two players to definitely keep an eye on, Mathieu Perreault and Francois Bouchard. Both have won scoring titles in the QMJHL. Both joined the Hershey Bears late last season.

I most likely will be able to check out the morning skates everyday this week. I doubt many of these players will make the squad full time like Nick Backstrom did, which makes him a pretty amazing talent for doing so. If anyone has a chance it would be Alzner or Oskar Osala, big kid from Finland who was Rookie of the Year playing for the Blues Espoo.

The next week will be a good measuring stick on the Capitals' future. At the very least you can watch what it takes for these kids make their NHL dreams come true. Below is the full schedule:

Monday, July 7
10 a.m.: Group A on ice
2:30 p.m.: Group B on ice

Tuesday, July 8
10 a.m.: Group B on ice
2:30 p.m.: Group A on ice

Wednesday, July 9
10 a.m.: Group A on ice
11:15 a.m.: Group B on ice
3:30 p.m.: Intrasquad scrimmage

Thursday, July 10
10 a.m.: Group B on ice
11:15 a.m.: Group A on ice
3:30 p.m.: Intrasquad scrimmage

Friday, July 11
10 a.m.: Group A on ice
11:15 a.m.: Group B on ice

Saturday, July 12
Capitals' Fan Fest
10:30 a.m.: Intersquad scrimmage

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