Washington Capitals End Of Season Prospect Report (Defensemen)

By Jeff Charlesworth

In the latest installment of my look into the past, present and future of the Capitals’
prospects, I take on the daunting task of dissecting the defensemen.

DEFENSEMEN

Alexei Tezikov – Portland Pirates (AHL)

This was not the season that everyone expected for Alexei after showing so much promise at the
end of last year. He put up good numbers and proved that he can play in the big leagues, but was
blocked at the NHL level by a veteran defense corps. Making things worse was a broken foot that
caused him to miss the playoffs, which could have been a chance to showcase himself. Even though
he is still somewhat inexperienced, he is being counted on to play full time in Washington next
season. The Caps will make room for him as they badly want to establish another young defenseman
in DC.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Portland (AHL) 53 6 9 15 65 12
Washington (NHL) 23 1 1 2 2 -2

Ross Lupaschuk – Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

This has been an eventful season for Ross, as he has moved around a bit. He was invited to try
out for Canada’s National Junior Team, but was a late cut. He started the season playing in
Prince Albert but was traded to Red Deer mid-season in a blockbuster deal, giving him a chance
to be a number one defenseman. He flourished on the Rebels, finishing third in scoring and
leading the team in power play goals. There will be a temptation in Washington to promote him to
the NHL next season, but he is still very young and teenage defensemen should be treated
cautiously.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Pr.Albert/Red Deer (WHL) 68 21 35 56 158 17
WHL PLAYOFFS 4 0 1 1 10 -3

Nolan Baumgartner – Portland Pirates (AHL)

The Capitals may be starting to lose patience with Nolan, as he has been coming along very
slowly. By all accounts, he had a good season – leading Portland defensemen in points. He also
was recalled to the NHL for a total of eight games and played well. Nolan has been exposed in
the last two expansion and waiver drafts, but was not claimed. The Capitals would like to make
room for the next wave of blueline prospects and that may spell the end for Nolan. It doesn’t
seem he is ready for full-time NHL duty, but he could win the seventh defenseman job in DC.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Portland (AHL) 71 5 18 23 54 -3
Washington (NHL) 8 0 1 1 2 1
AHL PLAYOFFS 4 1 2 3 10 -4

Steve Shirreffs – Portland Pirates (AHL)

Steve had a very productive first season, and showed a lot of promise for the future. He
started the year in a small contract battle, but was in uniform for opening night. Although he
took some time to adjust to pro hockey, he never seriously struggled. Because of the depth of
Portland’s blueline, he spent a while in the ECHL. Steve also spent the post-season in Hampton
Roads, but as is the case with many players in their first year out of college, he was exhausted
and did not play his best hockey. Steve will play full-time in Portland next year and should be
one of their top four defensemen.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Portland (AHL) 44 3 5 8 14 4
Hampton Roads (ECHL) 14 3 3 6 8 2
ECHL PLAYOFFS 10 0 1 1 25 -3

Jean-Francois Fortin – Portland Pirates (AHL)

J.F. came into the season with high credentials, but struggled in his first pro year. He was
billed as the offensive defenseman of the future for the Capitals, and showed flashes of that
talent. He was another casualty of the numbers game in Portland, and spent some time in the
ECHL. By the end of the season, he had gained the confidence of the Pirates coaches, and was
getting more playing time. Fortin will be back in Portland next season, as he is not ready for
the NHL just yet. He should be one of their top four defenseman and get plenty of power play
time.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Portland (AHL) 44 3 5 8 44 1
Hampton Roads (ECHL) 7 0 2 2 0 -1
AHL PLAYOFFS 2 0 0 0 0 -2

Nolan Yonkman – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Out of the “Top 5″ draft picks of 1999, Nolan had the most difficult season. He played his
usual hard-nosed style, which is exactly what the Capitals expected of him. However, his Kelowna
Rockets were definitely a lower-tier team in the WHL, and his plus/minus suffered because of it.
Nolan assumed a leadership position on the Rockets with their captain graduating to the pros,
and played well. The Rockets made a quick exit from the playoffs, as was expected. He will be
back with the Rockets for at least next year, and his status will be evaluated at that point.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Kelowna (WHL) 71 5 7 12 153 -30
WHL PLAYOFFS 5 0 0 0 8 -2

Mike Siklenka – Hampton Roads Admirals (ECHL)

Mike had a difficult season as he switched back and forth from forward to defenseman. It seems
now he has settled in as a defenseman, but the whole experience seemed to have had an effect on
him. For the first part of the season, he struggled and his numbers were down. After the switch
back to defence, his play improved greatly. The Capitals knew that Mike was a project and signed
him to a long-term deal, giving him all the time he needs to work things out. He could be in
Portland full-time next year, maybe as a number six defenseman.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Hampton Roads (ECHL) 58 7 4 11 62 -2
Portland (AHL) 8 0 0 0 12 -1
ECHL PLAYOFFS 8 1 0 1 15 0

Scott Swanson – Houston Aeros (IHL)

Scott is kind of the forgotten man on the defensive depth chart as he played the entire season
in Houston in an attempt to get him full-time playing minutes. He played well in the highly
competitive IHL, but did not put up the offensive numbers he was used to in college. The Aeros
are currently in the semi-finals of the IHL playoffs, as they try to repeat as league champions.
Scott is a RFA in the off-season, but won’t get many offers from other teams and will return to
the Capitals. He will probably be in Portland full-time next year.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Houston (IHL) 67 6 7 13 38 -6
IHL PLAYOFFS 3 0 0 0 2 -1
* still active in playoffs

Michael Farrell – Providence Friars (HE)

Mike had a productive, if unspectacular, season in college this year as he shifted back and
forth between forward and defenseman. Providence was quickly dispatched from the Hockey East
playoffs, and that should have been the end of his season. However, Mike decided to leave
college a year early and signed with the Capitals. He joined the Pirates for their playoff run
as a forward, and played extremely well. Mike will be back with Portland next season, and at
that time it will be decided if he will continue as a forward or a defenseman.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Providence (HE) 36 3 6 9 71 1
Portland (AHL) 7 2 0 2 0 3
HE PLAYOFFS 1 0 0 0 4 NA
AHL PLAYOFFS 4 0 1 1 0 -5

Nathan Forster – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Nathan had a breakout offensive season with the T-Birds. Early on in the year, he was up among
the team leaders in points, but suffered a thigh injury that caused him to miss some of the
second half. He showed he can play 2-way hockey this year, and finished second on the team in
plus/minus. Once Seattle got to the playoffs, he shifted into high gear but the T-Birds were
swept away in the second round. As a 1998 draft pick, Nathan must be signed or he will re-enter
the draft. He is definitely on the bubble – due to Washington’s depth on defense – but if the
Caps can find a place for him to play, he should get signed.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Seattle (WHL) 51 9 28 37 102 21
WHL PLAYOFFS 7 1 4 5 30 4

David Johansson – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

David exceeded expectations this season after coming over from Sweden. He showed the potential
to be a good offensive defenseman, but still needs plenty of work. Like his teammate Nolan
Yonkman, his poor plus/minus was a product of a sub-par Kelowna team. Although he struggled at
times, he led all Rocket rookies and defensemen in points. His inexperience was magnified in the
playoffs, as he dressed for only two of the five games in Kelowna’s first-round loss. David will
be assigned to junior again for next season, as he continues to develop.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Kelowna (WHL) 62 3 24 27 36 -12
WHL PLAYOFFS 2 0 0 0 0 0

Patrick Boileau – Portland Pirates (AHL)

Patrick continued to be a veteran influence on the younger Portland defensemen this season.
Both he and the Capitals hoped he would have been in the NHL by now, but it doesn’t seem like
that will happen now. More was expected offensively from Patrick this year and especially in the
playoffs, but he put up the lowest numbers of his career. He should be back in Portland next
season helping to bring along the younger defensemen. However, it appears that his window to
become an NHLer is closing.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Portland (AHL) 64 2 15 17 61 17
AHL PLAYOFFS 4 0 0 0 4 -2

Dean Stork – Hampton Roads Admirals (ECHL)

Dean is being brought along very slowly, but it looks like he has a bright future ahead of him.
He had a very solid season at Hampton Roads, and did well in the post-season as well. He
surprised a few people by putting up the highest point total of his career this season. Most
players who come out of college run out of gas before the season is over, but Dean was
conditioned well enough to last all the way through. He should be in Portland next season, as
possibly a number four or five defenseman.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Hampton Roads (ECHL) 52 5 13 18 69 6
Portland (AHL) 3 0 0 0 2 -2
ECHL PLAYOFFS 8 0 3 3 2 4

Henrik Petre – Brynas IF (Swedish Elite League)

Henrik seemed to tread water in the difficult Elite League this season. He was overmatched at
times, but did well enough to get a passing grade. He is at a crossroads in his career, with his
contract with Brynas now expired. If he was to ever come to North America, this would be the
year. Chances are that the Capitals will not have any room for him and he will sign a long term
deal in Sweden. If he does come over, he would most likely be assigned to the ECHL.

GP G A PTS PIM +/-
Brynas IF (SEL) 47 3 3 6 73 -9
SEL PLAYOFFS 11 1 0 1 4 NA