Garrett Haar

A year ago, Capitals General Manager George McPhee called Garrett Haar “the biggest surprise” of development camp and later helped connect the 2011 seventh-round pick with a college suitor.

After a successful freshman season at Western Michigan playing for former Kings and Blues Coach Andy Murray, the 18-year-old defenseman is back at Kettler Capitals Iceplex this week hoping to improve upon that performance.

Those efforts hit a snag on Tuesday as a hip flexor injury relegated Haar to watching the action in shorts and a T-shirt. The California native said he tweaked the injury in Monday’s scrimmage, and when he took the ice for timed skating tests on Tuesday, it still didn’t feel right. The Capitals staff advised him to take the day off.

“I think I could’ve played, but it just would’ve been more dangerous to try and force the issue because we do have three games later this week,” Haar said during a break in Tuesday’s scrimmage. “As of right now, I’m taking it easy, but I should be back tomorrow.”

Haar, a blue-liner capable of creating offense, has enjoyed a memorable run, morphing into a bona fide prospect. He recorded eight points in 36 games, helping the Broncos to win the Central Collegiate Hockey Association tournament title.

“It was a really good year,” Haar said. “Winning the CCHA made it even better. ... It was a great experience my freshman year, and I’m excited to go back.”

A member of the CCHA all-rookie team, Haar praised Murray as a players’ coach in his first year on the job.

“He’s really personable,” Haar said, “and he tries to talk to us every day.”

After this week, Haar will remain busy. He also earned an invitation to the 46-player USA Hockey Junior National Evaluation Camp. He’ll head to Lake Placid, N.Y, in August, hoping to earn the chance to represent the country at next year’s World Junior Championship.

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