The midsummer week of practices and scrimmages that is Capitals’ development camp kicks off Monday, when more than 20 organizational prospects and several free agent invitees take the ice for their first set of workouts. (Check out the full practice schedule here.)
It’s a chance for everyone from Washington and Hershey coaches to organizational brass and scouts to evaluate new draft picks, gauge the progress of older prospects and see if any free agents are worth bringing into the fold. Here’s a look at some of the players worth watching this week.
No. 43 RW Tom Wilson, 2012 draft pick
Height/weight: 6-3, 205 | 2012-13: Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
After making his NHL debut in the playoffs last spring, Wilson will vie for a spot on the Capitals’ 2013-14 opening night lineup. The young winger has plenty of size and didn’t look out of place against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals but the Capitals don’t want to rush Wilson, who they hope will turn into a top-six NHL forward. Wilson, 19, is signed to a three-year, $3.975 million entry-level contract with an annual salary cap hit of $1,294,167.
No. 65 LW Andre Burakovsky, 2013 draft pick
Height/weight: 6-1, 178 | 2012-13: Malmo (Allsvenskan)
The 23rd overall pick in last month’s draft, Burakovsky’s strong skating, playmaking instincts and puck handling ability stood out to Capitals’ scouts. Even though he’s a long-term project, at least two years away from the NHL, Burakovsky should be noticeable at development camp. Has not yet decided whether he plans on playing in Europe next season or making the transition to North America in the Canadian Hockey League.
No. 44 RW Riley Barber, 2012 draft pick
Height/weight: 5-11, 194 | 2012-13: Miami (NCAA)
A sixth-round pick, Barber burst onto the NCAA scene as a freshman recording 15 goals and 39 points and was named the CCHA’s rookie of the year. Barber, 19, is a versatile offensive presence with the RedHawks and stood out on the gold-medal winning U.S. team at the 2013 World Junior Championship as well. He’s still a few years away from the NHL but could wind up being a diamond in the rough from the late rounds of the draft.
No. 88 D Nate Schmidt, free agent signee
Height/weight: 5-11, 199 | 2012-13: Minnesota (NCAA)/Hershey (AHL)
An offensive, puck-mover Schmidt, 21, elected to skip his senior season with the Golden Gophers to turn pro. He appeared in eight games with Hershey last spring recording a goal and three assists but the true test lies in how he fares during his first full pro season. Schmidt, a left handed shot with a $1.35 million cap hit next season, could see time as a call-up for the Capitals.
No. 56 D Patrick Wey, 2009 draft pick
Height/weight: 6-2, 203 | 2012-13: Boston College (NCAA)
Named Hockey East’s best defensive defenseman as a senior in 2012-13, Wey is expected to start his professional career in the fall with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. While the Capitals are set with right-handed shots on the blue line heading into next season, injuries and his development could lead to a scenario where Wey makes an appearance in the NHL. Wey, 22, is signed to a two-year, $1.8 million entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $900,000.