Filip Forsberg grinned and made sure to acknowledge each of his teammates in succession right down the line after his first scrimmage in a Capitals uniform Monday afternoon at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
A member of the white team in the intrasquad game, the Capitals’ top pick at No. 11 overall in last month’s draft, ended his first day on the job with a subdued victory celebration.
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound Forsberg will have to spend at least one more season in his native Sweden, but he and more than 40 other Washington prospects spent the first day of development camp trying to make a memorable first impression.
“I’ve got the opportunity, and hopefully, I can make a good season over in Sweden,” Forsberg said. “Then we’ll see if the Caps want me to come over. ... It’s kind of cool knowing maybe some day you’ll be here.”
Forsberg, projected early on as a top-three pick, fell to the Caps at No. 11 after an unexpected run on defensemen. He returned to Sweden after the draft and arrived back in the area on Saturday to join the Caps for the first time. Still a month shy of his 18th birthday, Forsberg is the youngest player at the six-day camp.
Although listed as a center, Forsberg played mostly on the wing in the scrimmage and said he is comfortable there. He later compared himself to Ducks winger Corey Perry.
Forsberg said he’ll enjoy his week with the Caps, where he’s being joined by seven other draft picks. Then, he’ll turn his focus to helping his Swedish team, Leksand IF, try to gain promotion to the country’s top division in what could be his final season overseas.
“I’m just trying to skate as good as possible because it’s the first time on ice since last season, so I’m pretty bad out there right now,” Forsberg said. “Hopefully, I can become better by the end of the week.”
The team’s other first-round pick, 6-4, 205-pound winger Tom Wilson, didn’t waste any time flashing the toughness that attracted the Capitals’ attention. Less than four minutes into the scrimmage, Wilson crunched seventh-round pick Christian Djoos into the boards with a powerful check.
“That’s my type of play, throwing the body,” said Wilson, who racked up 141 penalty minutes — and had 27 points — in 49 games last season with Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League. “That’s the first thing I think people notice when they watch me play. I don’t shy away from the physical contact, for sure.”
As General Manager George McPhee indicated on draft night, Wilson, 18, will need to catch his other skills up to his physical tools. The Ontario native said he’s confident that the chance to compete with other top players this week will bring out the best in his game.
Both players said they liked that new Coach Adam Oates ran an uptempo practice session and kept them busy throughout the day. That included a morning stint in the video room during which Oates said he gave the players a glimpse of the system he will be employing with the Capitals in the fall.
“I think it’s going to be fun,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day, there’s going to be a lot of hard work put in, and I think a lot of good memories coming from this first camp.”