Top goaltending prospect Philipp Grubauer knew the Capitals’ preseason opener was one game he didn’t want to miss.
“I was excited. In the summer I saw the schedule and saw that Washington was playing in Belleville,” said Grubauer, who will play the second half of tonight’s game in Ontario against the Jets. “I was like ‘Oh man, I got to play there’ and today I’m here.”
Grubauer, 21, played a year and a half for the OHL’s Belleville Bulls during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. The first year marked his introduction to North America and the Bulls went to the OHL’s conference finals before falling to the Brampton Battalion.
Grubauer didn’t play many games that year, appearing in only 17 contests, but it was an important time in the young goaltender’s career as he made a transition to a new style of hockey and culture. He planned to visit with his former billet family.
“The one year we were pretty good and second year we were in last place. But being behind Mike Murphy and playing with P.K. [Subban] and [Eric] Tangradi was awesome for me in my first year, I learned a lot from that,” said Grubauer, who played 31 games for Belleville the following year before being traded to and winning the Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires. “Lots of experience for me and lots of memories I look back to.”
Grubauer isn’t the only former Bull in tonight’s contest. On the Winnipeg side, forwards Tangradi, Austen Brassard and goaltender Edward Pasquale all had stints in Belleville.
Capitals vs. Jets
Faceoff: 7 p.m., Yardmen Arena
TV: NHL Network
Projected Caps lineup
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Alex Ovechkin
Nathan Walker-Chandler Stephenson-Troy Brouwer
Aaron Volpatti-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Dane Byers-Casey Wellman-Stan Galiev
Karl Alzner-Mike Green
Jack Hillen-Steve Oleksy
Nate Schmidt-Connor Carrick
Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer