One of the big questions in last year's training camp was whether John Carlson would be ready for the NHL immediately. He wasn't at that precise moment, but after a 2009-10 season that saw him star for the Hershey Bears, become a hero for the United States' World Junior Championship team and perform well in 22 games there's little question that Carlson's place is in Washington.
The challenge for the defensive wunderkind is to keep up the steady progress in his development that's helped make him ready for the NHL at the ripe old age of 20.
"I've been itching all summer to get back to camp to do things that we didn't accomplish last year," Carlson said. "I have a goal this year and right now it's to make the team out of camp. I've been waiting for it all summer and now it's right here in front of me."
After the Capitals called him up for several stints throughout the regular season it was toward the end of the year, and particularly in the playoffs, when Carlson believed he was playing his best hockey. "I was in the lineup every night, I got comfortable here," he said. "My comfort level has gone up every time I've been here and that makes a difference."
During the first practice of official training camp Saturday, Carlson weathered Coach Bruce Boudreau's first grueling skate well and barely appeared winded at the end of the bag skate. It's was good first day for someone who's expected to eventually log significant ice time and will likely serve as another offensive threat on the blueline in addition to two-time Norris Trophy candidate Mike Green. He was already averaging 18.1 minutes per game with the Capitals last year.
"Looking back every team that I've played on now I've played a big role and I hope to have those kinds of minutes. That's my goal here," Carlson said. "Will it be over 20 right off the bat? Maybe not, but maybe it will be too. I'm obviously working toward that goal of knowing that every game I will be relied upon."
- Group A hit the ice at KCI about 15 minutes ago and Groups B and C are scheduled to scrimmage at Noon. Zach Miskovic, who has been recovering from a knee injury he suffered in development camp and skating on his own, is on the ice with Group A and taking part in practice.
Update: Miskovic was on the ice for the first part of the session but didn't stay out for the duration. He was working off the ice though.
FROM THE POST
A look at the competition between numerous centers for a place in the pecking order behind Nicklas Backstrom.
AROUND THE WEB
Corey Masisak also handicaps the battle to become the team's third-line center.
A professional try-out with the Capitals reunites Matt Hendricks, who could be in the mix for one of the center spots in the organization, and Coach Bruce Boudreau.