As the calendar hits 2013, there are still questions on how a shortened NHL season will play out. Regardless, the Washington Capitals made great strides over the past year, including key additions to their prospect pool including Tom Wilson and Filip Forsberg along with a big year in goal by potential Capitals goalie of the future, Braden Holtby. As 2013 gets underway, The Hockey Writers ranks all Washington Capitals players based on how far away they are from reaching the NHL, their position and where they fit on the depth chart. Past performance, Capitals plans for the future and player projections were used to develop the 2013 rankings. This article breaks down Washington’s prospects projects, players that are likely three years away from the NHL.
1. Stanislav Gailev
Gailev is in his first pro season following three years in the QMJHL with the Saint John Sea Dogs. He’s split time between the Reading Royals of the ECHL and Hershey Bears at the AHL level this season, but has yet to find his scoring touch with the Bears, registering only one assist through 15 games. He needs to work on competing consistently every game, and must add some more strength to his frame to become a more effective player in the offensive zone. Gailev possesses a very good wrist shot, and also can be used as a player at the top power play, because of his hard slap shot.
2. Chandler Stephenson
Stephenson was selected by the Capitals in the third round of the 2012 NHL entry draft, filling a need for Washington. A winger, the 18 year old Capitals prospect is in his third year for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. He should fill in on the third line with Washington in the future if he continues to develop.
3. Riley Barber
Barber was selected by Washington in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL entry draft, and currently plays for the University of Miami of Ohio and is one of the top freshman forwards in the NCAA. He played a key role in the United States World Junior Championship this winter, including some time on the power play. He projects as a solid third line forward, with potential to move up to the second line. It’s unsure how long he will play in college before he turns pro.
Carrick was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL entry draft by Washington, following two seasons with the United States National Development team. He brings a solid offensive presence from the blue line along with good puck moving instincts. Carrick is only 18 years old and is in his first season with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. In 39 games this season, the offensively skilled defenseman has seven goals and 15 assists.
Flemming currently plays for the Hershey Bears in the AHL, receiving a promotion from the ECHL this week due to the resolution of the NHL lockout. He was selected by Washington in the fifth round of the 2009 NHL entry draft, after playing for the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors of the OHL. It’s unsure if he can reach the NHL, but only time will tell and he finally has his chance this season to turn heads at the AHL level.
3. Garrett Haar
Haar is a 19 year old defenseman selected by Washington in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL entry draft. He is in his second collegiate season for Western Michigan University, following an eight point campaign his freshman year. Although a few years away, Haar could fill in as a depth defenseman with the Capitals down the road.
Grubauer is another heralded Capitals goalie prospect, with loads of potential. The 21 year old goalie was selected by Washington in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL entry draft, as they continued to stockpile goalie talent in their system that already included two future Capitals in Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby. He’s been playing for the Reading Royals of the ECHL this season, posting an outstanding 2.30 goals against average and .912 save percentage, proving he’s ready for the AHL.
With the lockout finally resolved, the German native finally gets his shot at quality minutes at the AHL level. He’ll share time in net with veteran AHL net-minder Dany Sabourin, who has proven to be a mentor for Braden Holtby in Hershey. He needs to work on rebound control along with continued progression in goal before making it to the NHL.
2. Sergey Kostenko
Kostenko, a Russian native, was selected by Washington in the seventh round of the 2012 NHL entry draft. He participated in the Capitals’ Development Camp this summer, and then signed an AHL contract with the Hershey Bears. He’s been playing for the Reading Royals in the ECHL this season, but has only played in two games as he finished rehab following injury. Washington still owns his rights, and could possibly sign him to an entry level contract if he plays well with Reading in 2013.
Although some players won’t make it to the NHL, they still have a contract with Washington. Likely Capitals prospects to remain in the minor leagues include forwards Greg Burke, Austin Wuthrich,Thomas DiPauli, Taylor Stefishen, Danick Paquette, Ryan Potulny, Matt Clackson, Mike Carman and defensemen Dustin Stevenson, Patrick Koudys, Jaynen Rissling,Christian Djoos, Patrick McNeill along with goalie prospects Brandon Anderson and AHL vet Dany Sabourin.
You can view the first two articles of the Washington Capitals 2013 player rankings series below.