For those who continue to believe that the Washington Capitals still have one of the best groups of prospects in all of hockey, I would suggest you take a another look. The continual injury crisis in Washington has slowly and steadily drained much of Washington’s youth, rushing many of them into the NHL. Now, if you choose to include players like Jan Bulis, Jaroslav Svejkowski , Richard Zednik and Brendan Witt as prospects, there is little doubt that the Capitals are still powerful. However, in all fairness, all four of those players have shown they do belong in the NHL and they can no longer truly be considered prospects. The current state of looks rather bleak mainly because Washington has had two sub par drafts in a row and much of their current talent pool appears to be more career minor leaguers than NHL. If I was to honestly rank the Capitals I would have to place them somewhere between 8 and 14.
Examining the players currently within the system, the Capitals do show some balance. They appear to have at least one fairly strong prospect at every position but beyond that it looks thin. The center position appears to be Washington’s strongest area though the team seems to be fairly deep on defense as well. If a few of the goalies can regain their previous forms, the Caps seem set at that position as well for years to come.
Let’s take a look at what is left in Washington’s system position by position.
In the past two drafts, Washington has selected four goalies (Cruickshank, Therrien, Cruz, and Stana). Of those four, two have struggled rather badly this past season, one I have no information on, and the last (who just happened to be the lowest selection of the four) appears to have potential star quality. Add to the mix two goalies in the minors and one playing well in the US college system. Neither player in Portland (AHL) appears to be a serious player, and in both cases they seem like long shots to ever hold a backup role in the NHL let alone a starting job, and the situation is still up in the air.
The best of this lot is without question, Pierre-Luc Therrien. He has played very well and with excellent consistency this past season in the Quebec Junior League. Curtis Cruickshank has struggled badly with consistency, so much so that Kingston went out and acquired Phoenix prospect Patrick DesRouchers. Jomar Cruz has split time in Brandon with Jamie Hodgson, but he has been outplayed by the Maple Leaf prospect, and it appears that Jamie will be the man come the WHL playoffs.
Depending on who you talk to, either Nolan Baumgartner or Nickolas Boynton is the best of the bunch on defense. Nolan has developed a lot slower than anyone had originally projected, but it appears as if he is very close to becoming an every day player in the NHL. The long slow process has likely helped him as a player in the long run as he has had to work hard to overcome a few shortcomings within his play. The result should be a harder working professional who understands he can’t take things for granted. Boynton has had to overcome several tough injuries in his career but he appears to be a prototypical two way NHL defensemen. Good puck handling skills combined with good on ice understanding have allowed him to be a contributor at both ends of the ice. Some scouts feel that he has the ability to run a powerplay, but that is still up in the air.
The rest of the group does include two other good looking young kids. Jean- Francois Fortin is a very impressive and highly skilled edefensemen who could end up being a #2 or #3 player. Patrick Boileau also has impressed some with his ability to carry to puck but his soft side and defensive deficiencies have held him back. Boileau reminds me of Jason Holland, a player who has enough skill but just seems to be missing an element and whatever that piece is, it has held him back.
The forward position has some talent but there is no star power anywhere, and an extremely small amounts of potential in terms of scoring. At center, three of the prospects look pretty good, Blake Evans of Tri-City is a hard working two way center but his skating is a serious question mark. Bonita Gratton has been given some NHL time but his lack of size and limited defensive skills harm his overall grade. Todd Hornung might be the best of the bunch in terms of potential and he has a chance of improving now that he has been moved to Lethbridge.
On the right Wing, overrated Alexander Volchov is the main hope but his play in the AHL was so bad, Washington shipped him into the IHL. The other Russia Alexander Kharlamov bolted the ECHL to return to Russia. he showed flashes of talent but he doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the NHL level. Three college player provide an element of unknown quality. All three have size but limited offensive skills.
On the left, Brad Chruch has fallen even further down the list, now banished to the ECHL. Miikka Elomo is receiving virtually no ice time with TPS Turku in Finland.
Trevor Halverson is the only prospect available with any promise what-so-ever. In juniors Krys Barch of London has promise but again limited scoring. If the Caps need toughness, Mark Major is the man they would call.
Capitals Prospects – general information
Goalies: team (League) ht. wt. age DOB
Martin Brochu Portland (AHL) 5-10 200 25 3/10/73
Sebastein Charpentier Portland (AHL) 5-9 161 21 4/18/77
Curtis Cruickshank Kingston (OHL) 6-2 209 19 3/21/79
Jomar Cruz Brandon (WHL) 6-1 194 18 4/05/80
* Mike Rosati Portland (AHL)
Radislav Stana HC Kosice (Slovakia) 6-1 161 19 n/a
Pierre-Luc Therrien Victoriaville (QMJHL) 6-1 170 19 9/03/79
* David Weninger Mich. Tech (WCHA) 6-1 180 23 2/08/76
Defensemen: team (League) ht. wt. age DOB
Nolan Baumgartner Portland (AHL) 6-1 200 22 3/23/76
Patrick Boileau Indianapolis (IHL) 6-0 190 23 2/22/75
Nick Boynton Ottawa (OHL) 6-2 210 20 1/14/79
Mike Ferrell Providence (HE) 6-1 205 20 10/20/78
Jean-Francois Fortin Sherbrooke (QMJHL) 6-2 190 19 3/15/77
Nathan Forster Seattle (WHL) 6-1 193 18 7/03/80
David Harlock Portland (AHL) 6-2 205 27 3/16/71
Stewart Malgunas Portland (AHL) 6-0 200 28 4/21/70
Rick Mrozik Portland (AHL) 6-2 185 23 11/2/75
Hendrik Petre Djurgarden (Sweden) 6-0 190 19 9/04/79
Steve Poapst Portland (AHL)
Mike Siklenka Seattle (WHL) 6-4 215 19 12/18/79
Centers: team (League) ht. wt. age DOB
Benoit Gratton Portland (AHL) 5-10 163 22 12/28/76
Blake Evans Tri-City (WHL) 6-1 205 18 7/02/80
Todd Hornung Lethbridge (WHL) 6-0 200 18 4/03/80
Erik Wendell Minnesota (WCHA) 6-1 197 19 8/23/79
Trent Whitfield Hampton Roads (ECHL) 5-11 180 21 6/17/77
Left Wingers: team (League) ht. wt. age DOB
Krys Barch London (OHL) 6-1 195 18 3/20/80
* Brad Chruch Hampton Roads (ECHL) 6-1 210 22 11/14/76
* Miikka Elomo TPS Turku (Finland) 6-0 180 21 4/21/77
Trevor Halverson Portland (AHL) 6-1 195 27 4/06/71
Matt Herr Portland (AHL) 6-1 180 22 5/26/76
Mark Major Portland (AHL) 6-3 223 28 3/20/70
Right Wingers: team (League) ht. wt. age DOB
Chris Corrinet Princeton (ECAC) 6-3 200 18 3/20/80
Kevin Caulfield Boston College (HE) 6-1 221 21 n/a
* Alexander Kharlamov ?? (Russia) 5-10 180 21 n/a
Rick Kowalsky Portland (AHL) 6-1 195 26 3/02/72
Matt Oikawa St. Lawerence (ECAC) 6-2 215 21 10/27/77
Alexandre Volchov Cincinnati (IHL) 6-1 194 21 9/25/77
* = status with Caps is questionable
Top 15 list
Capitals Top 15: as of 2/15/99
1. Nick Boynton D Ottawa (OHL) 6-2 210 20
Nick has struggled with injuries in the past two years. He has great two-way skills. Very dependable in his own zone with the ability to carry the puck and make smart breakout passes. Can quarterback a powerplay though he’s not as natural as you would want. Projects nicely into a #2 or 3 defensemen position. His size is well used though Boynton isn’t overly physical.
2. Nolan Baumgartner D Portland (AHL) 6-1 200 22
Was a highly touted prospects who has developed slower than hoped. Nolan is a big physical defensemen, who has solid two way skills. He moves the puck well, makes smart plays but brings limited offensive skills to the rink. Has been very inconsistent, but the skill level is very close to NHL level.
3. Alexandre Volchov RW Cincinnati (IHL) 6-1 194 21
A highly skilled center who has really struggled in the past few years. Considered a bit of an headcase with a rather inflated ego, Alex has been taught the humble lessons of hockey. Attitude problem were a big problem last year but he has shown more professionalism this past season. He has had to work for success for the first time in his career and he is finally beginning to show signs of life. Could project out to be a solid scorer if he continues to work. Skates well but tends to shy away from contact and physical play. Was recently reassigned to Cincinnati of the IHL, I haven’t yet figured out the reasoning for that move.
4. Jean-Francois Fortin D Sherbrooke (QMJHL) 6-2 190 19
A flashy defensemen with size and high skill level. A great skater and a fantastic passer, Fortin isn’t very physical but he does the little things well. Sees the ice well and makes smart decision, though he has shown tendencies to carry the puck a little too much. Has shown natural abilities to control a powerplay. Should play in the NHL at some time but could use some seasoning in the minors. Has turned into a real surprise with his poise and intelligent play.
5. Pierre-Luc Therrien G Victoriaville (QMJHL) 6-1 170 19
The best goaltending prospect of the bunch , despite being the lowest pick. A classic French-Canadian butterfly goalie, has very strong lateral movement, and very strong fundamental skills. Has been extremely consistent for a strong Tigers team, finally emerging from the shadows of Mathieu Garon. Has one of the best save percentages and goals against averages in the league and he has proven the critics wrong. Could easily outshine all the others goalies in the Caps system.
6. Todd Hornung C Lethbridge (WHL) 6-0 200 18
A young quick centermen with strong two way potential. Was recently traded to Lethbridge from Portland and the result has been a greater offensive role. Seems to have a better chance of developing now that he has been dealt.
7. Beniot Gratton C Portland (AHL) 5-10 163 22
A smallish winger with natural scoring skills. Very smooth and flashy. Can be deadly in open space but he works well in tight spaces. Has good passing skills and good on ice presence. Could be a very effective player if put into the correct role. Won’t play very physical but he is not a poor defensive player. Works hard at both end but his lack of size and strength causes trouble for him along the wall or when battle near the net.
8. Krys Barch LW London (OHL) 6-1 195 18
A skilled winger who has struggled in offensive situations. Skates well and can make plays but he has struggled finishing. Next season his role with the team should expand.
9. Curtis Cruickshank G Kingston (OHL) 6-2 209 19
A very big goaltender who has struggled with his consistencie this past season, so much so that Kingston went out and acquired Patrick DesRouchers. If the consistency shows up, he can potential to be a very good one. A Butterfly goaltender who like Patrick Roy, covers a ton of the net when he’s down. Good glove hand and solid puck handling skills.
10. Blake Evans C Tri-City (WHL) 6-1 205 18
Blake is a choppy skater who has extremely high work ethic and a very strong physical edge to his game. He also has good offensive skills, with some playmaking and finishing skills. Has been limited to third line center last season, and he has stayed with that role this as the team strives for a Western league title. Has proven he can be a better than average WHL player, his work ethic, size and physical edge project well into the professional level.
11. Jomar Cruz G Brandon (WHL) 6-1 194 18
Butterfly goalie, uses his size to his advantage, has struggled badly with consistencies this past season and has been outplayed by Jamie Hodgson to boot.
12. Stewart Malgunas D Portland (AHL) 6-0 200 28
Veteran defensemen who has proven to be a useful asset to the Capital organization. Moves the puck well and provides some toughness on the blueline, but his real value is that is has experience and he doesn’t rattle in pressure situations. Has limited offensive ability. Likely a career role player. Recently recalled to the Caps.
13. Miikka Elomo LW TPS Turku (Finland) 6-0 180 21
Projected as a top line scorer, Miikka struggled badly inj his rookie season with Portland. Was allowed to return to TPS Turku following the year and he is currently receiving limited ice time in Finland. Could prove to be a real gem if his work ethic would improve. Regaining his naturally scoring ability would help as well. NHL future seems rather limited at this stage.
14. Trent Whitfield C Hampton Roads (ECHL) 5-11 180 21
Young center known for his speed and quickness. Has shown he has a scoring upside but like most rookies, Trent has struggled in this season. The result is a trip into the East Coast League in hopes he can gain his confidence and improve his offensive output. Should be provided an expanded role next season.
15. Patrick Boileau D Portland (AHL) 6-0 190 23
A smallish but skilled defensemen who has good hockey vision. Has shown a good ability to create chances. Makes solid decisions in his own end, and can carry the puck when needed. Lack a physical edge but will play along the wall when necessary.
Several Other Player profiles
Martin Brochu G Portland (AHL) 5-10 200 25 3/10/73
Small but effective goalie who has had a solid professional career so far. Record a career high with 23 wins for Portland in the 96-97 season. Was the Pirates top goalie but he has missed most of this year following a shoulder injury. Very quick with strong lateral movement. Has proven he can consistently play game in and game out. He is a good veteran to have within the organization as he can play when injury problems occur.
Sebastein Charpentier G Portland (AHL) 5-9 161 21 4/18/77
Small French-Canadian goalie who spent much of last season in the East Coast League. A butterfly goalie who has never shown he can rise to the higher level of competition. Like almost every other Cap prospects, has fallen to injuries this past season. His NHL future looks extremely break.
David Weninger G Michigan Tech (WCHA) 6-1 180 23 2/8/76
Senior goalie who has had an outstanding career with Michigan Tech. Former 1996 3rd round pick. Won a record number of games as a freshmen (11). Struggled in his sophmore year (1-13) behind a very poor Tech team. Rebounded last year and was named the “Superior” Player of the Year after posting a career high 14 wins.
Mike Ferrell D Providence (HE) 6-1 205 20 10/20/78
Mike a strong two way player who has shown to have a good physical edge to his game. A rough player who moves the puck well but his skating is somewhat questionable. Played in 33 games last season recording 13 points. Has already racked up more penalty minutes this season and his ice time has increased nicely.
Nathan Forster D Seattle (WHL) 6-1 193 18 7/3/80
Good strong skater, very physical player who plays a tough grinder game. Has racked up lots of penalty minutes this season. Models his game after Scott Stevens. Good work ethic and very emotional on the ice. Has really picked up his play in 1999.
Hendrik Petre D Djurgarden (Sweden) 6-0 190 19 9/4/79
Like most Swedish defensmen, Hendrik is a fundamentally sound defensemen who has a very limited amount of playing time with the senior team, he may be playing with the junior squad but I haven’t found that information yet.. Has little offensive skills, though the system he plays in limited any flair from showing.
Mike Siklenka D Seattle (WHL) 6-4 215 19 12/18/79
Big physical defesemen who moves the puck well. Joined Seattle for the post season last year after playing with Olds (AJHL). Strong player on the puck with limited offensive skills. Has shown real bruiser abilities but his ice time has limited his growth. Has surprised everyone by posting 12 goals so far!
Mark Major LW Portland (AHL) 6-3 223 28 3/20/70
A tough veteran winger with limted skills and below average skating skills. A leader on the ice and a player who stirs up trouble and protects teammates.
Goalies: team (League) GP min record gga save%
Martin Brochu Portland (AHL) 3 130 1-1-0 3.68 .892
Portland (97-98) 37 1920 16-14-1 3.00 .909
Sebastein Charpentier Portland (AHL) 3 179 0-3-0 3.34 .891
Portland (97-98) 4 229 1-3-0 2.62 .926
Hamp. Roads (97-98) 43 2388 20-16-6 2.86 .899
Curtis Cruickshank Kingston (OHL) 16 835 5-9-0 4.53 .886
Kingston (97-98) 57 3166 30-?-? 3.92 .889
Jomar Cruz Brandon (WHL) 27 1493 10-14-1 3.98 .872
Brandon (97-98) 30 1595 16-12-2 3.05 .885
* Mike Rosati Washington (NHL) 1 28 1-0-0 0.00 1.000
Portland (AHL) 30 1664 9-21-0 3.68 .885
Radislav Stana HC Kosice (Slovakia) statistics not available
Kosice (97-98) 32 1920 n/a 1.75 n/a
Pierre-Luc Therrien Vict. (QMJHL) 38 2059 17-15-1 3.06 .900
Vict. (97-98) 10 571 6-3-1 2.73 .885
* David Weninger Mich. Tech (WCHA) 21 1188 8-13-0 3.08 .907
Mich. Tech (97-98) 33 1910 14-16-2 3.74 .878
Defensemen: team (League) GP G-A pts PIM +/-
Nolan Baumgartner Portland (AHL) 36 5-14 19 19 -16
70 2-24 26 70 n/a
Patrick Boileau Indianapolis (IHL) 7 1-2 3 9 -3
Portland (AHL) 52 6-18 24 24 -23
Portland (97-98) 47 6-21 27 51 n/a
Nick Boynton Ottawa (OHL) 44 9-41 50 69 n/a
Ottawa (97-98) 40 7-31 38 94 n/a
Mike Ferrell Providence (HE) 20 1-7 8 43 n/a
Providence (97-98) 33 5-8 13 32 n/a
Jean-Francois Fortin Sherbrooke (QMJHL) 55 16-25 41 72 n/a
Sherbrooke (97-98) 55 12-25 37 37 n/a
Nathan Forster Seattle (WHL) 53 5-16 21 130
Seattle (97-98) 68 1-12 13 153 n/a
David Harlock Portland (AHL)
Washington (97-98) 6 0-0 0 4 +2
Portland (97-98) 71 3-15 18 77 n/a
Stewart Malgunas Washington (NHL) 8 0-0 0 0 -4
Portland (AHL) 24 1-6 7 37 -5
Washington (97-98) 8 0-0 0 12 +1
Portland (97-98) 69 14-25 39 73 n/a
Rick Mrozik Portland (AHL) 51 3-6 9 57 -8
Portland (97-98) 75 2-15 17 52 n/a
Hendrik Petre Djurgarden (Sweden) 2 0-0 0 0 -1
Djurgarden (97-98) 3 0-0 0 0 n/a
Steve Poapst Washington (NHL) 1 0-0 0 0 -2
Portland (AHL) 49 2-19 21 30 +5
Portland (97-98) 76 8-28 36 78 n/a
Mike Siklenka Seattle (WHL) 49 12-9 21 74 n/a
Olds (97-98) 54 10-17 27 120 n/a
Centers: team (League) GP G-A pts PIM +/-
Beniot Gratton Washington (NHL) 4 0-0 0 0 -4
Portland (AHL) 52 14-32 46 118 -2
Washington (97-98) 6 0-1 1 0 +1
Portland (97-98) 58 19-32 51 137 n/a
Blake Evans Tri-City (WHL) 53 10-16 26 105 n/a
Tri-City (97-98) 73 19-34 53 128 n/a
Todd Hornung Leth./Port. (WHL) 47 16-15 31 86 n/a
Portland (WHL 97-98)64 19-18 37 96 n/a
Erik Wendell Minnesota (WCHA) 30 4-4 8 34 +6
Maple Grove (97-98) 24 24-23 47 38 n/a
Trent Whitfield Hampton Roads (ECHL) n/a
Portland (AHL) 44 8-4 12 16 -11
???? (97-98) n/a
Left Wingers: team (League) GP G-A pts PIM +/-
Krys Barch London (OHL) 51 10-15 25 50 n/a
London (97-98) 65 9-27 36 62 n/a
* Brad Chruch Hampton Roads (ECHL)24 10-9 19 129 n/a
Portland (AHL) 10 1-3 4 18 -1
Washington (97-98) 2 0-0 0 0 0
Portland (97-98) 59 6-5 11 98 n/a
Miikka Elomo TPS Turku (Finland) n/a
Portland (97-98) 33 1-1 2 52 n/a
Trevor Halverson Washington (NHL) 5 0-1 1 2 -1
Portland (AHL) 44 15-21 36 118 -2
Portland (97-98) 43 14-13 27 181 n/a
Matt Herr Washington (NHL) 18 1-2 3 2 -6
Portland (AHL) 34 15-9 24 18 -3
??? (97-98) n/a
Mark Major Portland (AHL) 49 3-3 6 200 -14
Portland (97-98) 79 13-2 15 355 n/a
Right Wingers: team (League) GP G-A pts PIM +/-
Chris Corrinet Princeton (ECAC) 21 6-5 11 n/a n/a
Princeton (97-98) n/a
Kevin Caulfield Boston College (HE) 27 5-4 9 n/a n/a
Boston College (97-98) n/a
* Alexander Kharlamov ?? (Russia) Stats not available
Hampton Rds (ECHL) 32 4-14 18 25 +4
Hampton Rds (97-98) 70 22-41 63 77 n/a
Rick Kowalsky Portland (AHL) 30 3-7 10 57 -7
Portland (AHL) 39 11-25 36 78 n/a
Hampton Rds (97-98) 24 11-16 27 72 n/a
Matt Oikawa St. Lawerence (ECAC)24 4-7 11 10 n/a
St. Lawerence (97-98) n/a
Alexandre Volchov Cincinnati (IHL) 9 0-2 2 0 -3
Portland (AHL) 27 3-8 11 24 0
Portland (97-98) 34 2-5 7 6 n/a