Yesterday I got a look at the future of the Washington Capitals as I attended the first of their three scrimmages at Kettler Iceplex. As always the players played hard and it was a great three periods of hockey.
They started the scrimmage with a 25 minute period with a running clock. The score ended 0-0 as the teams felt each other out and got use to playing with each other. Travis Boyd came the closest to scoring when he hit the crossbar in front of the net on the rebound.
Then there was a short intermission as they cut the ice before the teams came back out. They started the period out with a shootout. Vrana’s goal wowed the crowd, showing great hands and creativity. The game opened up as the second period started and some of the top players really started to shine. The game ended in a 4-4 tie, but I’m not sure how they were keeping score, as six goals were scored between the teams and there were a bunch more in the shootout. Here are my individual thoughts on the game:
-Burakovsky was the best player on the ice, bar none. He showed great vision and displayed a goal scorer’s touch as well putting a couple home, one which was a complete snipe. He also rang the post on another 3 on 1. I don’t think Burakovsky should be playing in Washington next year unless he’s getting 17+ minutes a night, but once he gets here, he is going to put up his fair share of points. He played center yesterday, but you could tell he is more comfortable on the wing.
-Madison Bowey was also very impressive. He and partner Wade Epp controlled the play when they were on the ice. Bowey has everything you want: size, skating, first pass; it’s all there. He was noticeably better than every other defender and I think it is safe to say he will make the NHL in some capacity.
-Wade Epp looked good for a camp invite, although he is older being a 1989 born. He has size and moves the puck well.
-Steven Spinner is a burner. He was notably fast out there and on one play put the puck past the d and split right through them for a breakaway but hit the crossbar.
-I wasn’t as impressed as Vrana as some might have been. He had his moments for sure. Vrana completely undressed Rasmus Tirronen in the shootout and dangled Madison Bowey in the 3rd period of the scrimmage, but his game as a whole was just okay. He definitely has skill, he actually reminded me of a lesser Nail Yakupov in a way. But I would rank him a tier below past 1st round picks such as Burakovsky and Kuznetsov based on what he showed today.
-I was impressed by Nathan Walker. He was making plays out there and set up Chandler Stephenson for a nice goal. I’m not sure what his top potential is but he plays hard. He looked better than Riley Barder today in my opinion.
-Chandler Stephenson looked good. He centered Barber and Walker for most of the scrimmage and didn’t look out of place.
-I wasn’t as impressed with Riley Barber as I have been in past viewings. He got hit by a puck in warmups, so that may have affected his play, I’m not sure. He did score one and looked good on the cycle, but I was expecting him to be White’s best player and he looked just average.
-Shane Gersich showed good vision out there. He is a smaller player but made some great feeds.
-Michal Cajovsky was always looking to jump into the play. He is one of the older players and played in the ECHL last year, but he was always looking to create something, no doubt.
-Another camp invite you noticed was defenseman Eliot Antonietti. He’s huge and he looked like he was ready for game 7 of a Stanley Cup final. He scored a goal on a nice shot from the point.
Those are the players who stood out the most to me. I did try to focus on the most recent draftees to see what they can do. Everyone played hard and with the exception of a player or two, looked like they belonged. Props to everyone who participated and I’m sure the next two scrimmages will be just as entertaining.