Capitals 2009-10 junior prospect update

By Dan Watkins

The Washington Capitals have eight prospects playing in juniors – four in the WHL, two in the QMJHL, and two in the OHL. Out of those eight, six are forwards and two are defensemen. 

WHL

Cody Eakin, C – Swift Current Broncos
Acquired: 3rd round, 85th overall, 2009
May 25th, 1991, 5’11, 179 lbs.

Eakin is attracting the most attention out of all Capitals junior prospects, and rightfully so. After being selected in the third round of the 2009 NHL entry draft, Eakin has surpassed all expectations to this point, totaling 25 goals and 14 assists in just 28 games. He has already surpassed his goal total from all of last season, which saw him score 24 in 54 games.

The Winnipeg native is a speed demon who can burn around opposing defensemen. With solid stick-handling and excellent finishing ability, Eakin has already earned himself an entry-level deal with the Capitals, signed on Oct. 21. Look for Eakin to be in the picture when Team Canada selects their U20 roster shortly.

Joel Broda, C/W – Calgary Hitmen
Acquired: 5th round, 144th overall, 2008
November 24th, 1989, 6’0, 203 lbs

Playing in his overage season after being unable to crack the Hershey Bears lineup, Broda is looking to build on an already impressive WHL career. After scoring more than 50 goals last season, Broda is off to a solid start this season, racking up 14 goals and 14 assists in 26 games. The WHL veteran of five full seasons has a dangerous shot and is versatile, playing either center or wing.

He must continue to impress the Capitals by putting the puck in the net on a very strong Calgary team. At the tail end of this season, Broda could possibly see some time with the Hershey Bears to evaluate his future with the club, but that is still a long ways off.

Garrett Mitchell, RW – Regina Pats
Acquired: 6th round, 175th overall, 2009
September 2nd, 1991, 5’10, 180 lbs.

When Mitchell was drafted, it was said that he had hands of stone and could not bury the puck like he should. So far this season, he has improved tremendously in this department. After only netting 10 goals last season in 71 games, Mitchell is already up to eight goals in 20 games during this campaign after being hampered by early injuries that kept him out of the lineup. The rough and feisty winger was not drafted for his goal-scoring ability, however. He continues to stick up for teammates, get in the faces of the opponents, and be an overall positive contributor to his hockey club.

Eric Mestery, D – Tri-City Americans
Acquired: 2nd round, 57th overall, 2008
May 28th, 1990, 6’5, 202 lbs.

Shuttling back and forth between the Tri-City Americans and the Lethbridge Hurricanes is a familiar task for Mestery, and this season was no different. After starting the season with Lethbridge, he was recently shipped back to Tri-City for his final junior season. The lanky defenseman has not had a great start though, garnering only eight points in 26 games while posting a plus/minus of -13. Mestery must add on some more weight and use his reach affectively if he ever hopes of making it past the WHL.

QMJHL

Benjamin Casavant, LW – PEI Rocket
Acquired: 7th round, 205th overall, 2009
January 21, 1991, 6’1, 213 lbs.

After being taken with one of the last picks in the 2009 NHL entry draft, Casavant impressed during the Capitals’ summer development camps. Scoring two goals in a scrimmage against the Philadelphia Flyers rookies and draft picks, Casavant was sent back to the QMJHL shortly afterwards to build on an impressive 2008-09 campaign. He was off to a great start, but was sidelined for nearly a month with injuries. Nevertheless, Casavant has been able to pot 10 goals and 21 points in only 20 games thus far.

Casavant has the offensive skills to become an NHL player one day, but his skating must improve. When breaking down the wing, he often looks as though he is skating in cement. However, he has soft hands around the net and above-average shooting and passing abilities. If his skating can improve even slightly, Casavant could be considered a steal in the seventh round.

Dmitri Kugryshev, RW – Quebec Ramparts
Acquired: 2nd round, 58th overall, 2008
January 18th, 1990, 5’11, 193 lbs.

One of the few recent Russian draft picks who came over to North America after the summer’s entry draft, Kugryshev has impressed thus far in his stint in the QMJHL. Under coach Patrick Roy, Kugryshev was able to garner 74 points in only 57 games in his rookie season last year. This year, he is on a similar pace, putting up eight goals, 20 assists, and 28 total points in 27 games played. The quick and offensively gifted Moscow native must continue to improve his overall play, including away from the puck, if he wants to make an impact at the next level.

OHL

Stefan Della Rovere, LW – Barrie Colts
Acquired: 7th round, 204th overall, 2008
February 25th, 1990, 5’11, 200 lbs

The veteran and captain of the Barrie Colts has been hampered by injuries in the past six months, but that has not put a detour on his production thus far at the junior level. This season, Della Rovere has 11 goals and 21 points in 24 games playing in his last season in the OHL. Already having signed an entry-level deal with the Capitals, Della Rovere is a unique prospect in the organization. He is not afraid to fight and lay down some heavy hits, but he also has some offensive abilities as well. He always seems to be around the puck and good things normally happen when he is on the ice. After the junior season is wrapped up, and having already done it at the end of last season, there is little to no question that he will either travel to the Hershey Bears or the South Carolina Stingrays to give them help during the stretch run.

Brett Flemming, D – Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Acquired: 5th round, 145th overall, 2009
February 26th, 1991, 6’0, 172 lbs.

After being experimented at forward earlier in the season to mixed results, Flemming has moved to the backline where he belongs and seems most comfortable. This season, Flemming has no goals and 11 assists in 27 games played. The undersized defenseman makes strong passes out of his own zone and is capable of handling power-play duties from the point. Obviously, Flemming needs to add some more muscle, which will in turn help with his simply average physical game.