The Capitals’ week long development camp concluded Saturday with Team B capturing a 5-2 win in the third and final scrimmage between the two groups of prospects. While the most scrutiny during the six day camp was reserved for centers Cody Eakin and Mattias Sjogren, who are expected to compete for a chance to crack the 2011-12 NHL roster, there were a few younger players who seized the opportunity to get noticed.
Chief among the pleasant revelations this week at Kettler Capitals Iceplex was the play of 2011 seventh-round draft pick Garrett Haar.
“I thought Haar was the biggest surprise of the camp,” General Manager George McPhee said. “For a young man that was four picks away from not being drafted, he really played well here. Liked his hockey sense, the way he competed I like the way he defends and he looks real strong on his skates.”
Haar decommitted from Northeastern shortly after Greg Cronin resigned as head coach to join the Toronto Maple Leafs and the California native had planned to postpone going to play NCAA hockey for another year. McPhee and the Capitals told Haar that for his development they want him to begin playing college hockey in the fall, though, and are helping to find a school for the 17-year-old defenseman.
McPhee “said that Boston College was gonna to try to get some full ride [scholarship] for me for this fall. So if that happens, then I’ll be heading out to college,” said Haar, who received offers from Umass Lowell and Western Michigan for next season.
“George called [Jerry] York, the coach of Boston College last night, and I guess you could say he pumped my tires,” Haar said. “He’s helping me out a lot.”
Travis Boyd, Washington’s sixth round 2011 draft pick who is bound for Minnesota in the fall, also caught the attention of McPhee and the coaching staff. In this week’s scrimmages he recorded three goals and three assists.
“Really pleased with him, he’s a smart player,” McPhee said. “At 17 years old to be out there sticking his nose in playing the way he did and showing us that he understands the game and thinks the game real well.”
While the newest additions to the Capitals’ pipeline of prospects opened eyes to their potential, Eakin admitted that he wasn’t too pleased with his performance in his third development camp.
“I felt like I progressed. I’m not in the best shape,” Eakin said. “There’s no excuse for it, but I had a good exit meeting [with the coaches] to discuss what I need to do…Obviously off ice is a huge part of it. I have to make sure I come into camp in shape, obviously. It’s going to be hard. It always is. So that’s the most important part for me. It starts now.”
In what was a deliberate match up between Eakin and Sjogren, the older more physically mature Swede continued to take full advantage of his edge in size. Sjogren was consistently successful on faceoffs and was able to out-muscle Eakin along the boards. Coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t as harsh on Eakin as the 20-year-old was on himself, though.
“I’m not disappointed at all in Cody,” Boudreau said. “I know he’s going to come and give it his best. Sometimes we forget he just finished playing five weeks ago….I think he’ll be better in September.”
--Free agent invitee T.J. Syner led Team B in Saturday’s scrimmage victory with a pair of goals. Reid Edmondson, Karl Stollery and Stanislav Galiev (empty net) all added goals for Team B as well in the win.
Meanwile Andrew Cherniwchan and Luke Lockhart scored for Team A.