The Capitals’ rookie camp is set to begin with on-ice workouts Sunday at 10:30 a.m. It’s an interesting year for rookie camp, in the sense that there isn’t a player who is a shoo-in for the NHL roster at the start of the season.
By virtue of the depth already assembled on the roster, and the number of one-way contracts, the Capitals open camp with only one open roster spot, assuming that Tom Poti is on the long term injury list. (This doesn’t account for the possibility of someone playing so well they force the team to make decisions elsewhere, of course.) But more on all of that in tomorrow’s hard-copy edition.
In the meantime, below is a list of players to watch in the coming days and weeks. Even if they don’t start the year in Washington, there’s a good chance you’ll see some of them over the course of the season as call-ups.
*F Cody Eakin: The 2008 draft pick is among those expected to compete for the one open spot on the NHL roster. Eakin, 20, didn’t stand out as much as he may have been expected to during development camp in July and said afterward that he was “not in the best shape.” At the time, Coach Bruce Boudreau stressed that the true time to impress isn’t July; it’s September.
*F Mattias Sjogren: In his first appearance at KCI this July, along with getting some dental work done the 23-year-old Swede made sure to make his presence – and 6’2, 209 pound frame – known. Sjogren’s size should make him stand out again among the rookies, but he hasn’t looked out of place during informal workouts with NHL veterans, either. His true evaluation will likely come a little later in camp, when he’s skating with the Capitals’ veterans again.
*D Dmitry Orlov: The 2009 second-round draft pick consistently garners praise for his play, but his greatest challenge for his first full season in North America will remain the language barrier. He’s making the effort to learn English, but in the meantime, both Boudreau and Bears Coach Mark French are trying to ensure that nothing’s lost in translation for the young blueliner. Washington has seven defensemen, excluding Tom Poti, under NHL contracts, but that doesn’t mean Orlov can’t push those in front of him on the depth chart. Even if he starts the year in Hershey, he’ll likely be donning a Capitals sweater sooner rather than later.
*F Stanislav Galiev: Like Orlov, Galiev has been in town for several weeks now to train with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. It shows dedication that doesn’t go unnoticed by coaches, and neither does the additional strength Galiev displays on the ice. While he is eligible to return to the QMJHL next season, Galiev has the possibility to impress enough to earn a lengthy stay in training camp and preseason appearances.