Capitals Dev Camp: All About the Goaltenders

Every summer the Capitals host development camp in Arlington, Virginia. And every summer we get to look at a new crop of goaltenders that are learning from some of the best coaches in the NHL and AHL. This summer is no different. Continue reading “Capitals Dev Camp: All About the Goaltenders”

Capitals Conditioning Continues; Stephenson and Smith-Pelly Join

The Capitals, minus the rookies who are in Florida, continue to work on strengthening their bodies and warming up for training camp next week.

The morning typically starts early with the goalies working at the far end of the rink with Scott Murray. Today they brought in the notorious medicine ball. In the net were Pheonix Copley, Vitek Vanecek, and Braden Holtby. More on them later. Continue reading “Capitals Conditioning Continues; Stephenson and Smith-Pelly Join”

It’s Like a Goalie Festival at MedStar Capitals Iceplex

Wednesday was the target date for most of the players to return to MedStar Capitals Iceplex for some conditioning prior to the start of training camp 14 September.

Although not everyone is here yet – no Tom Wilson sighting – we do have four of the franchise goalies in attendance.

Everyone’s favorite goaltender – Smiling Braden Holtby is back an in command of the situation. Actually -he was pretty good today chatting and encouraging the other goaltenders, especially his number two guy, Pheonix Copley, who wears number 1.

Iiya Samsanov seemed more comfortable in the net, with his new red goalie mask, than when last we saw him at development camp. His name is now on the Capitals roster with Holtby and Copley, so it is anyone’s guess who will be sitting number two.

And up from the Hershey Bearss we find Vitek Vaneck, who was holding his own against the incoming shots. He an Evgeny Kuznetsov shared a little secret on the ice…

The Caps are in a fortunate position. Although they lost Philipp Grubauer they have great potential to fill the number two spot behind the Holtbeast. The next few weeks of testing combined with a few preseason games will help the powers that be determine who sits between the posts when giving Holtby a rest. And they are watching all the prospects to size them up – as in assistant general manager Ross Mahoney who kept a watchful eye Wednesday.

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Oh and did we mention that Ovi is back??!!

Elite Prospects On Ilya Samsanov Future

Russian goaltender Ilya Samsanov will be joining the Hershey Bears for the 2018/19 season. He will receive an introduction to the NHL/AHL style of play as the franchise grooms him for an eventual back-up or number spot on the Capitals roster.

In February 2018, Alessandro Seren Rossi Elite Prospects wrote an article on the grueling process Russian goalies take to stardom in the NHL. Give it a good read.

Goalies usually peak later than other players and, hence, drafting them can be a tougher task. One of the top goalies in the world, Sergei Bobrovski, was never drafted into the NHL but this didn’t stop him from winning two Vezina Trophies and getting several other accolades. Other goalies, though, are thought so highly of that they are chosen in the first round, like Andrei Vasilevsky of the Tampa Bay Lightning for example. Another one is Ilya Samsonov, who was picked by the Washington Capitals 22nd overall pick at the 2015 NHL Draft.

Bobrovski was a bit of a late-bloomer as he didn’t play with the Russian national team until the 2008 WJC in the Czech Republic, where he backstopped Team Russia to a bronze medal. Samsonov, pretty much like Vasilevsky, got his feet wet with the national teams very early and therefore he had much more exposure. While Samsonov didn’t leapfrog stages at the same rate as Vasilevsky, he definitely had a strong showing in his junior career, representing his country at one U18 and two U20 WJCs, winning best goalie honors at the 2015 U18 WJC in Lucern, Switzerland, despite Russia’s sensational loss to the home team, 5-0, in the quarterfinals.

Samsonov debuted in the KHL during the 2014-15 season, even before getting drafted into the NHL. He played only one short portion of a game that year, spending most of the season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s junior team in the MHL. He was then promoted to the senior team, backing up Vasili Koshechkin, one of the top goalies in the KHL and fresh winner of an Olympic gold medal.

“Competition is too strong of a word,” Samsonov replied to Daria Tuboltseva of championat.com before the start of the season when asked about the competition between him and Koshechkin. “We have more of a collaboration, we are always supporting one another and don’t fight over who will play. It’s up to the coaching staff. There is no war between us.”

Certainly practicing and playing with such an experienced goalie like Kosheckin, who has won multiple medals at the IIHF WC including a gold medal in 2009, has helped Samsonov. Something he confirms himself.

“Vasili’s already shown everyone how good he is, and he has a ton of experience. He plays more games, but that for me is even better because this gives me even more motivation. I watch the way he plays in this or that situation and I definitely gathered a lot of experience playing alongside with Koshechkin.”

Of course, Samsonov can’t yet match the experience of a player with 15 years of pro hockey experience, but at 21 years of age, he has already played more than 70 games in the KHL, other than the experience with the Russian national team at the junior and the Euro Hockey Tour level.

Samsonov is a very athletic goalie, and at 6’3”/205 lbs. he has the size required to a modern-day netminder. As Director of European Scouting for the NHL, Göran Stubb, sums it up:
“He has good size and covers the net well. He plays at the top of the crease and effectively squares to the shooter. He shows good instincts, is well balanced and can make acrobatic saves.”

The young goalie’s contract runs out in April and chances are good that he will move overseas as soon as this summer. He is represented by former superstar Igor Larionov.
“His agent proposed us unacceptable conditions,” Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s GM Gennadi Velichkin told championat.com in late December. “We’ll play by the rulebook: his contract is running out and we’ll give him a qualifying offer, that’s for sure. But if he has an option of signing in the NHL then, for God’s sake, we’re honoring it. We’re all proud of Ilya.”

Samsonov will end up on a team where there is an uncontested number one goalie in Braden Holtby. But Samsonov seems to be ready. When asked by Daria Tuboltseva about his chances to move overseas next summer, he replied in a very positive manner, as translated by the popular Washington Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks: “Seemingly so (laughing). I don’t even know. We talked to the Capitals management, it was a positive conversation. There is a chance, but I need to work harder. This is the best league in the world after all. There are another five prospects competing for the same spot as me.”

In the same interview, Samsonov seemed very cool with the option of playing in the AHL. Considering that it took Andrei Vasilevsky two years to become the number one goalie for the Tampa Bay Lightning, it can be forecasted that a couple of seasons in the minors will certainly not hurt Samsonov’s development, even more so if he will get to play a few games at the NHL level at some point. In any case, Caps’ fans should be satisfied: they have a young goalie with great potential who definitely wants to play in the NHL.

Capitals Development Camp Ends With Scrimmage And Hopes

Photos by Brittney Marcum Click Here

The Capitals concluded this year’s development camp with a high-paced game in which some players really stood out. Kettler Capitals Ice Plex was packed for the game, although some fans braved the heat for a chance with the Stanley Cup – more from our team later.

Scrimmage

The group was divided into Team Red and Team White. Out of play today were Lucas Johansen and Kristofers Bindulis.dsc_0496

The goalies were also split between the two teams with Mitchell Gibson, Peyton Jones, and Frank Marotte in the net for White while Ilya Samsanov and Logan Thompson protecting the net for Team Red.

Scrimmages are short bursts of play and the prospects have a limited time to show their skills to coaches as management. Watching from rafters were the new Caps coach Todd Reirden, Olie Kolzig (professional development coach and former goalie goalie mentor), Blaine Forsythe, Mitch Korn, as well as GM Brian MacLellen. Not that that added any pressure to the guys hoping to get to the show soon.

The game was full of lots (we mean LOTS) of hits between the guys. And some decent scoring too!!!

Goal makers today included:

Eric Florchuk (Red)

Mark Simpson (White)

Sebastian Walfridsson (White)

Shane Gerish (Red)

Chase Priskie (White)

Final score 4 – 2 Team White!

We had a few favorite standouts today and we will dive deeper into their play and potential in a few features later this summer. For now, let’s take a look at some of them:

Connor Hobbs is our number one player from camp and the scrimmage. He is everywhere on the ice, reading where the puck goes and getting there quickly. Everyone we spoke with today mentioned him. And there is something different in his play. A definite level of confidence we haven’t seen in previous camps.

Cooper Zech, a defenseman who at 5’9″ and 161 pounds was a real powerhouse. We liked him from day one and he confines to impress us in the scrimmage.watermarked24(2018-06-30-1552)

Shane Gerish is the real deal. He has fast feet, good hands control, great in the corners, and lots of control. Oh and he can score too! He had a goal and an assist today. We can’t wait to see him at training camp!watermarked28(2018-06-30-1552)

Jonas Siegenthaler had full control today. He has a new maturity in the ice. Today we saw a nice move forward and a backhand pass that looked effortless for him. Like Hobbs, he seems to have a new-found confidence in his performance.watermarked19(2018-06-30-1551)

Chase Priskie was outstanding- including that sweet goal late in the second period. There is something about his style we like. You know he is there, and yet he can skate under the radar and make a play like he did today. He is one to keep an eye on.

And we just have to mention Patrick Giles. He was one of the three youngest players at camp this year. He is a local guy and his family and fellow teammates came out today to watch him. It was fun seeing their excitement for their buddy! Giles wasn’t drafted but he was invited to camp. He will be off to Boston College and we hope we get to see him back at camp again.

We will cover more of the players, especially those heading to Hershey and those drafted by the Capitals. It can take a while for the dream to come true, but this crew has a lot of potential.

Next up for the Caps? Capitals Training Camp in September.

Caps Development Camp Day Two Standouts and Photos

The Capitals continued with their development camp on Wednesday. After an easy start on Tuesday, the coaches really put them all through the paces. It was Test Day for the forwards and defensemen on the Arlington Rink while the goalies worked on their skills over on the Capitals Rink. They all came together for more drills at the noon hour.

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Continue reading “Caps Development Camp Day Two Standouts and Photos”

Caps Development Camp Day One With the Goalies

There is a lot of excitement about the future for the Hershey Bears and the Washington Capitals, and much of the excitement is about goalies. Tuesday we had a first look at who might be in the pipeline.

Like Evgeny Kuznetsov before him, we have been watching for a certain Russian goalie to join the workforce. Meet Ilya Samsonov – number 30.

Add Logan Thompson, a free agent:

Additional goalies at camp include Mitchell Gibson (57), Frank Marotte (59), and Peyton Jones (60).

Coaches were kind of light on them today but expect the pace to pickup now that they have all gotten acquainted.

NHL: Potential Player Moves to Watch

We are all anxiously awaiting news about key players around the league. Top two players folks are watching are John Tavares and John Carlson. Also worth keeping an eye on for new contacts or new teams are:

John Tavares- Can the Islanders afford him? Can they afford not to sign him? Could he become the big surprise move?? Could he make his way to the desert or into the Windy City? Both look possible and both could use his style of play.

John Carlson – The Capitals want sign him. He wants to stay here in his home area. He has played his best year yet and is key to the success of the Caps power play. Can the Caps move players around and have the money for a long-term high-dollar deal–maybe $8 million AAV. The Devils might make him a sweet offer to consider- or the Blackhawks if they can work out their cap issues.

Mike Green – No, we don’t expect him back in a red sweater for the Caps. His neck injury derailed his season and it is unclear if the Red Wings will invest in him again, even though he was having a great season pre-injury.

James Neal – So this would be the first big change for the Golden Knights. He stepped up in the playoffs. Was it enough for George McPhee to sign him again?

Carter Hutton – One of those goalies who can probably name his price. Word on the street is he may be ready to move on from the St. Louis Blues? He’s a treat to Grubauer who probably is looking in the same places.

James van Riemsdyk – The Maple Leafs will most likely let him test the waters because they don’t have the salary cap to meet his demands. He has something to offer a team looking to build up their PP. We could see him fitting in with Vegas or maybe the Hurricanes.

Phil Kessel – Has the relationship in Pittsburgh soured? Many attribute the Pen’s slide this season to him. Kessel is sitting in a good place because of the structure of his contact- a modified no trade that restricts which teams might find the gnarly player on their roster. In the end, we think they will work things out he will life to taunt the Capitals next season.

Philipp Grubauer – The Capitals backup goalie is looking for a starting spot somewhere. He has a little competition. The Caps would like to keep him; however, they also want to honor his talent and help him find what he is seeking. Potential new teams bounced around include Hurricanes and Islanders.

Other players we are watching:

And let’s just throw in Erik Karlsson for fun. With all the nonsense going on in Ottawa. Karlsson isn’t a UFA until 2019. We thought the Sens might deal him earlier this year but they all chose to sit pat. He could bring the team some newer younger players in a trade. Now that Mike Hoffman gone does Karlsson settle in? This will be the off-ice drama story of the summer.

The NHL draft is 22-23 June and then UFA’s can start looking around on the 24th. Here are all the dates to watch in the coming weeks as news deals and negotiations move into high gear.

No Shortage of Good Goalies Looking for Contracts, Including Caps Grubauer

The writing is on the wall – it is highly likely that Philipp Grubauer will not return to the Washington Capitals as a back-up goalie.  Brian MacLellan said as much on Wednesday during the media interviews. Grubi wants, and deserves, a starting spot.

king grubi

So what are the likely options being touted about? How about replacing Jaroslav Halak of the Islanders. Halak could be on the move which means this might be the best option available for Grubauer. The Isles seem dissatisfied with their backup goalies so we think they won’t be moving them into the starting spot anytime soon.  Continue reading “No Shortage of Good Goalies Looking for Contracts, Including Caps Grubauer”

Capitals – Golden Knights: Game One Jitters? Simple Things to Fix.

The Capitals and Knights finally met up in Las Vegas for Game One of the Stanley Cup Final and there was little doubt that both teams were a bit on edge. They were focused, but neither team came out playing their best. In the end, Vegas took a final goal lead and closed the deal with an empty net goal, 6-4 VGK.

Continue reading “Capitals – Golden Knights: Game One Jitters? Simple Things to Fix.”