Three Capitals prospects, including the organization’s first two draft picks of 2014, have been selected to development camps for the 2015 World Junior Championships, one step closer to playing in the event to be held next winter in Toronto and Montreal.
First-round selection Jakub Vrana, who dazzled and impressed at Washington’s development camp in early July, was tabbed by his native Czech Republic alongside goaltender Vitek Vanecek, a second-round pick in 2014. Their camp will be held from Aug. 3 through Aug. 8 in Montreal, alongside the Hockey Canada National Junior Team development camp. Both Team Canada, on which defenseman Madison Bowey will play, and Team Russia will participate in the camp as well. The Czechs will also migrate to Lake Placid, N.Y., for one game against Team USA on Aug. 9.
A hard-shooting forward with nifty puck-handling moves, Vrana was drafted 13th overall by the Capitals, the last selection of the 2014 NHL draft lottery. Washington moved up in the second round to select Vanecek at 39th overall. The Capitals signed both players to three-year, entry-level deals in mid-July, and have said they are expected to return to their old leagues for the upcoming season — Vrana in the Swedish Hockey League and Vanecek in the Czech Republic.
Both Vrana and Vanecek played on the Czech Republic’s under-18 team at the World Junior Championships this season. Vanecek posted a 2.74 goals-against average in seven games and Vrana led the entire tournament with eight goals in 10 games. Vrana was also pulled up to the under-20 team for the WJCs, where he had two points in five games.
Bowey, meanwhile, is likely to return to the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets for another season, but a strong training camp with the Capitals this September might make the organization reconsider. Last season, Bowey doubled his point total from 2012-13, registering 60 points over 72 games.
“Obviously I think I’m going to try to show my best in this camp and also coming into the summer, summer camp and minicamp,” he said at Washington’s development camp. “I want to try to prove I’m close enough. Going to back to Kelowna definitely didn’t hurt me at all. I think it’ll be another year, going back for a captain, another year for me to mature again, round my game to make sure I can play at the next level. That’s definitely what the plan is, I think.”
As CSN Washington noted, because Bowey, Vrana and Vanecek are all under 20 years old, they won’t count against the NHL’s 50-man limit if they don’t appear on Washington’s roster this season.
The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships will be held from Dec. 26-Jan. 5. Canada has been slotted in Group A (Finland, Germany, Slovakia, United States) for preliminary play in Montreal; the Czech Republic is in Group B (Denmark, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland), slated for preliminary competition in Toronto.