Signing additional prospects for 2002-03?

By Seth Keggins

The June 1st deadline has come and gone…with no worries for the Caps organization. All of the Capitals’ Entry Draft 2000 CHL players have already been signed, including Sutherby, Pettinger, Cutta and Van Buskirk. Only Ivan Nepriayev (C) 2000, Bjorn Nord (D) 2000 remain over in Europe and Eric Wendell (F) 1998-Univ. of Minnesota, where the Capitals will retain their rights during the June 22-23 Entry Draft 2002.

Ivan Nepriavev-Round 5 #163 2000 Entry Draft

-Capitals Hockey’s Future Ranking #8
-Poition: Center; 185lbs 6’2″
-Team: Lokomotiv

Year    Team      League        GP  G  A PTS PIM +/-
2001-02 Lokomotiv Super League  37  3  8  11  18
2001-02 Lokomotiv Romazan Tourn. 3  2  0   2   0
2001-02 Lokomotiv Bashkir Cup    4  0  1   1   0
2001-02 Lokomotiv Payulkhati Tr. 3  2  0   2   6
2001-02 Russia    WJC U20 IIHF   9  3  5   8  14  +5

-Ivan is one of only “two” Caps natural centers coming up the pipeline. Only Brian Sutherby is ahead of Ivan on the Caps depth chart, with not much in their wake. The Caps will only have remaining “cusp” centers in the system including Glen Metropolit, Chris Ferraro, and Trent Whitfield (all under 6′ in height!). Ivan Nepriayev has come along from the lanky kid the Washington Capitals drafted with their 5th pick, 163rd overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He has bulked up and learned to play the physical style of hockey that is necessary to prosper in the NHL. Though he bulked up, he is still relatively light at 185 for a 6’2 frame and could use to gain more muscle. Despite weighing only 185 pounds, Ivan plays like he is a heavy weight – throwing his body around and fighting for the puck. According to a Russian journalist from Yaroslavl – Dmitri Nabokoff, Ivan “does not have the “weight” on the ice, but compensates for it with amazing determination and creativity”. His development has been proggressing nicely since the Capitals picked him. During the 2000-01 he proved himself to be the best center on the Russian National Team. During the 2001-02 season he earned the center position on Lokomotiv’s second line. There he got exposed to the physical NHL style hockey. Word is that the Capitals organization is pushing hard to get Ivan to attend training camp this coming season, and where they may decide to sign him.

Bjorn Nord-Round 9 #289 2000 Entry Draft

-Capitals Hockey’s Future Ranking N/A
-Poition: Defense; 196lbs 6’1″
-Team: Djurgardens IF Stockholm

Year    Team      League        GP  G  A PTS PIM +/-
2001-02 Djurgardens SEL         50  8  12 20  46
2000-01 Nuernberg   DEL         56  5  16 21  36
1999-00 Djurgardens SEL         49 17  11 28  62

-Bjorn was originally drafted in 2000, and was expected to jump right into the AHL/NHL during his first season. Although his play was descent in the 2000 training camp, it quickly became apparent that he was not adjusting to the smaller North American rinks as fast as the Capitals had hoped. Consequently, he was sent to Germany to play for the Nürnberg Ice Tigers in the German Elite League; since recently returning to Djurgardens. He looks to be only be called back/and signed to the Capitals if there were an emergency need for defensemen (e.g. Kucera).

Erik Wendell-Round 5 #125 1998 Entry Draft

-Capitals Hockey’s Future Ranking N/A
-Poition: Left Wing; 210lbs 6’1″
-Team: Univ. of Minnesota

Year    Team      League        GP  G  A PTS PIM +/-
2001-02 Minnesota WCHA          44  8  9  17  42   0
2000-01 Minnesota WCHA          33  5  2   7  46   -
1999-00 Minnesota WCHA          32  4  2   6  26   -
1998-99 Minnesota WCHA          41  7  7  14  46   -

-Erik is a very talented player, who does many things well. He has good height and an excellent reach, which he uses to get around defensemen. He has good offensive instincts but needs to adjust to the better talent level in college. He doesn’t shy away from rough play either, and isn’t afraid of anyone. He has a good work ethic, and has a determination to get better. He is also a great athlete, and is in excellent condition but needed to gain more weight, and has done that going from 197 to 210 pounds since his sophomore season at Minnesota. He is a great skater and with his ability and desire, he “could” be a 2nd or 3rd line scorer. However, he will have to spend a few years in the minors to prove he belongs if he’s signed. Eric Wendell has until May, 2003 to be signed by the Washington Capitals.