The Washington Capitals have a very bright future thanks to a core of prospects. Four of the prospects who make up that core were recently included in Corey Pronman’s top 50 NHL prospects list and another one was included in his top 100 list (Note: Insider articles). Those five prospects:
- Evgeny Kuznetsov (10th)
- Andre Burakovsky (22nd)
- Jakub Vrana (32nd)
- Riley Barber (37th)
- Madison Bowey (97th)
Kuznetsov will be expected to play a big role for the Washington Capitals this season, though which role he will play is still largely unknown. He could be the first line left wing, second line left wing, second line center, or third line center. Trotz has said that he would like for Kuznetsov to play at center, but I think that Kuznetsov will most likely be a left wing.
Andre Burakovsky is expected to start the year with the Hershey Bears and will hopefully not see any time with the Washington Capitals this year (barring a “try out” period, much like what the Washington Capitals had hoped to do with Connor Carrick last season). Interestingly, Pronman didn’t mention Burakovsky’s recent move to center. Whether he’s a left wing or a center, Burakovsky is going to be a very dynamic player for the Washington Capitals in the future.
Pronman has always been very high on Vrana, so his ranking does not surprise me at all. Looking at Pronman’s rankings, I believe he was ranking them according to upside, so having Vrana ranked higher than someone more polished like Barber is completely justifiable. Vrana has a ton of upside, but the Washington Capitals still don’t know how his game is going to translate over to North America. I will give Vrana this- his scoring ability tends to be a universal skill, one that translates no matter where you play.
Barber has been a late-round gem for the Washington Capitals. Pronman was impressed with Barber’s play not just during the NCAA season, but also during the Under 20 tournament. Barber is an extremely skilled player who has developed into a committed two-way player.
I would have had Madison Bowey higher than 97th, but Pronman definitely justifies his ranking. While Bowey has immense upside on offense, his positioning and hockey IQ still must improve. At worst, Bowey appears to be another Mike Green, which I’m sure the Washington Capitals would love. At best, Bowey could be the elite two-way, top pairing defenseman that they’ve been waiting for.