Five Washington Capitals prospects have represented their respective home countries at the 2014 World Juniors. While the United States was eliminated in a 5-3 defeat at the hands of Russia, three players delivered strong performances throughout their time in the tournament–hopefully foreshadowing the quality of play they could bring to Washington down the road.
Alternatively, Team Sweden has also had a strong showing so far. The Swedes have continued to maintain a flawless record by beating the Slovaks. We’ll see two Caps prospects continue to compete for Sweden, as the team has advanced to the semifinals.
Washington’s first pick of the 2013 draft has excelled whilst playing for the OHL’s Erie Otters. With 47 points in 31 games this season, he’s shaping up to be the offensive threat George McPhee hoped for when drafting him.
Unsurprisingly, Burakovsky’s success has translated well in this year’s World Juniors. He’s got 7 points so far–good for third on Team Sweden, who will compete against Team Russia in the semifinal round. Whether he’ll notch another hat trick is unknown, but what we have seen of him is promising.
Burakovsky’s teammate Christian Djoos brings a different skill set to the Swedish team. As a two-way defenseman, the Capitals’ 7th round draft pick offers a little bit of everything: solid skating, offensive tendencies, and a decent defensive game. Though he hasn’t particularly excelled in any one area, it’s been hard to get on a read on how he’ll play in a North American league–Djoos has spent his entire career in Sweden.
Even so, Djoos has had a quiet but productive showing in this year’s tournament. With two points (a game-winning goal and an assist), he hasn’t put up extraordinary numbers, but his plus-four rating is a testament to his defensive ability. Like Burakovsky, he’ll face the Russian team next.
Last year, Miami RedHawk Riley Barber experienced the glory of winning the gold as a member of Team USA. This time around, the team’s captain wasn’t so fortunate. The Americans were defeated by the Russians, despite the efforts of the offensively talented forward and his teammates.
Following a stellar rookie outing at Miami University, Barber is in the midst of another outstanding season. And with 4 goals (two of them coming on the power play) and 6 points in 5 games, he delivered a strong performance during his time at the 2014 World Juniors. Down the road, the Capitals should expect another offensive talent if Barber’s success continues.
Of the Caps’ three American prospects, DiPauli’s name may not be quite as familiar. The gritty center doesn’t have the offensive ability of Barber, but he plays a more physical game. DiPauli tallied two assists in the United States’ five games played, while maintaining a plus-two rating.
He might not be a potent goal scorer, but he’s a powerhouse and makes his presence known on the ice–two qualities the Caps could always use.
We’ve already caught a glimpse of defenseman Connor Carrick in a Washington sweater. He’s spent the majority of this season with the Hershey Bears, where he’s been developing nicely.
This was evident as he suited up for Team USA. From a numbers-only perspective, a plus-seven rating and three points (all assists) showed Carrick’s ability to help make plays happen for his own team while stymieing the opposition. And in Team USA’s final game of the tournament, Carrick was named player of the game.
He’s not currently playing in the NHL, but with some development, Carrick could have a lot to offer the Caps’ struggling defense corps.