Backstrom Among Prospects Skating at Capitals' Rookie Camp

Saturday, September 8, 2007

When Nicklas Backstrom and the other 26 prospects who have been invited to the Washington Capitals' rookie camp skate onto the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex today, it won't be long before the competition turns fierce. Only a select few will be tapped to participate in the club's NHL training camp, which begins Sept. 14.

The rest will head back to juniors, the minor leagues or Europe.

"There's going to be a lot of talent out there," Capitals General Manager George McPhee said. "We're not sure how many are going to make the main camp. It depends on how they perform. So we'll evaluate all of them, then take the ones who perform well and put them in the main camp."

On Sept. 12, the Capitals' rookies will travel to Philadelphia for a scrimmage against the Flyers' rookies.

Although Backstrom, the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2006, is penciled in as the Capitals' second-line center next season, McPhee said he felt it was important that the organization's top prospect not be exempt from rookie camp.

"He's a rookie," McPhee said. "It's another opportunity for him to assimilate and adjust to the smaller dimensions of rinks in the NHL and the North American game."

While Backstrom is a lock to play in Washington next season, several other youngsters will need a strong showing this week to earn an opportunity. Among those who figure to get a long look are right wing Fran?ois Bouchard and defenseman Karl Alzner, the Capitals' No. 5 overall pick in June.

All sessions will be open and free to the public.

Note: Defenseman Keith Seabrook will not attend rookie camp, McPhee said. He suffered a shoulder injury while practicing with his junior team. Defenseman Viktor Dovgan and goaltender Simeon Varlamov have opted to remain in Russia and also will not attend.

-- Tarik El-Bashir

© 2007 The Washington Post Company