Caleb Herbert experienced a rude awakening last summer during the Washington Capitals’ development camp, where the recent high school graduate was thrown into the mix with the best junior and college players around the world while doing his best adjust to the increased competition level on the go.
“Coming out of high school hockey, everything is real slow,” said Herbert. “Each team has their top guys, but you come here and everybody’s good and it’s go, go, go the whole game. That took a little bit of getting used to… Going through the whole thing last year and coming back this year you kind of know the schedule, the plan and some of the guys around the rink This year, I feel a lot more comfortable overall.”
Herbert – drafted by the Capitals in the fifth round (142nd overall) in 2010 – was selected by USHL’s Sioux City, playing 51 games while scoring 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists), including four game winning goals. A shoulder injury midway through the season kept him from playing the entire 60-game schedule. Herbert backed his claim that his shoulder was healthy during Thursday scrimmage when he scored a goal off a face-off during the first period.
“The talent level’s high, the speed’s great,” Herbert said. “It’s been a good couple scrimmages so far. I’m excited for Saturday.”
Herbert, 19, plans to play college hockey as a freshman later this year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He said that this summer’s experience coupled with last year’s will help him prepare for the increased competition he’ll face as he continues to make the push toward the NHL. The competition level has given him a personal measure of his current skill level, while giving him added motivation to match the quality of some of the best players in camp, including forward Cody Eakin.
“I like the way Eakin plays,” Herbert said. “I kind of look up to him. I’d like to play like him some day. He’s got the speed, he’s got the talent. I want to push myself to get to where he’s at.”