2002-03 Washington Capitals Prospects 1-10

By Seth Keggins

2002-03 Washington Capitals Prospect Ranking’s

1. Brian Sutherby, C

Seth’s Comments: I have Brian ranked at #2. I feel shameful for doing so, however I feel Ouellet was our top prospect. Brian looks to be a great competitor and leader for Washington. He performed well this season after starting in a Capital uniform. Look for Brian to possibly be the Caps 4th line center this season, or season in Portland.

Rick’s Comments: Brian has progressed very well since being drafted and his closeness to the NHL is the main reason I pick him as my number one prospect. However, the jump to the NHL is the most difficult one to make, and I would think he has a pretty good chance next year with Cassidy talking about how he prefers youth in his lineup.

Josh’s Comments: Sutherby has the potential to be a good two-way center. He is big, strong, and possesses impressive offensive talents. He may be ready to become the 4th line center in 2002-2003.

2. Maxime Ouellet, G

Seth’s Comments: Maxime by far is a star goaltender in the making. His arrival via the trade deadline swap of Adam Oates, helped to concrete the Capitals dillema of “future goalie”. He should continue to rack up minutes in Portland this season, and may get a call-up to Washington by the season’s end.

Rick’s Comments: Although projected as a franchise netminder, Washington feels comfortable with Kolzig for the time being. Ouellet is pencilled in to start in Portland until he is either absolutely dominating the AHL or Kolzig is injured or loses confidence. I would think two more years in the AHL at least, unless he has a sensational camp.

Josh’s Comments: There are very few realistic franchise goaltending prospects around the NHL, but the Caps have one of them. He has the superior skills to become a star goalie in the NHL.

3. Steve Eminger, D

Seth’s Comments: Safest pick for the Capitals during this year’s Entry Draft. Steve is a smooth skating defenseman, with great puck handling skills. He is not overly physical, but does not back down from finishing his checks and clearing the front of the net. Steve will continue to play in Kitchener this season.

Rick’s Comments: I think Steve could end up being the best player out of all of our prospects, but the fact is he is still a few years away from the NHL. Solid, safe reputation reflects McPhee’s conservative style.

Josh’s Comments: Eminger could ahve easily been selected in the top 10 of the 2002 draft, but he fell right into the Capitals’ hands. He is an excellent offensive defenseman who is very responsible in the defensive end. He can be considered a two-way defenseman, and is very similar to Calle Johansson in his size and style of play.

4. Nolan Yonkman, D

Seth’s Comments: Nolan began the season injured but quickly rose to the occasion in Portland. By the end of the season, Nolan looked like Chris Pronger in a Caps uniform. He led in hits every night for the Caps.

Rick’s Comments: Great year of improvement last year, didn’t look bad at all in the NHL and the Caps sure could use him on the blue line. If he continues to play like he has, he will be in Washington, but I don’t think he’s an absolute lock and the Caps will send him down to Portland if they think he needs it.

Josh’s Comments: He is a huge hard-hitting defender. He does not have very good offensive capabilities, but he is stronger in the defensive zone than any other prospect. He played fearlessly and impressively in his short stint with the Capitals at the end of 2001-2002. He should become one of the Caps’ six regular defensemen in 2002-2003

5. Alexander Semin, RW

Seth’s comments:The next Peter Bondra? Semin had scouts jumping from their seats this past season, only time will tell if this kid will fill out and journey to the U.S. for the Capitals. I look forward to seeing him at rookie camp this summer.

Rick’s Comments: I don’t think he is going to come over and play in the CHL, and if not then hopefully he will end up in the Russian Super League next year. Phenomenal talent, but don’t expect him to challenge for a job for two or three years.

Josh’s Comments: Semin is an offensively-gifted forward, but he desperately needs to bulk up if he wants to succeed in the NHL. His offensive talents are excellent, but the most attractive element of Semin’s game is that he is not entirely an offensive player. Semin is projected to be primarily an offensive threat, but he is not a defensive liability in any way.

6. J.F. Fortin, D

Seth’s Coments: Finally, Fortin was performing like a 1st round draft pick. Although it took a few years between the ECHL and AHL, J.F. looks like a stone in the Caps defensive foundation.

Rick’s Comments: The only reason I have Fortin so low (8) is because of how difficult it is to maintain a training program. His brain is NHL ready, but he has shown conditioning problems in the past and whether that problem is totally behind him should be obvious on the first day of training camp.

Josh’s Comments: He is not as big as Yonkman, but he is almost as good in the defensive end. Fortin has above average offensive skills and showed that he can play very well defensively during the 2nd half of 2001-2002. He hits hard and plays smart. During the last few months of this past season, Fortin and co-captain Brendan Witt formed the team’s top defensive pairing. He should be back there again next season.

7. Jakub Cutta, D

Seth’s comments: Not as steady of a season, as the Caps brass would have liked to have seen out of this kid. However, Cutta will continue to blossom into a strong 2-way defenseman.

Rick’s Comments: With Nolan Yonkman and JF Fortin beginning to establish themselves in the NHL last year, it might be a little more difficult for Jakub to play his way onto the Capitals. He should get to spend some time in Washington next year though and look for him to break in full time either next year or in 2003-2004.

Josh’s Comments: Cutta is still considered a top defensive prospect. His two-way game began to develop in Portland last season, but he will most likely be a defensive defenseman once he cracks the lineup in Washington. He will challenge for a spot in training camp, but with Yonkman and Fortin ahead of him on the depth chart, he is unlikely to make the team in 2002-2003.

8. Nathan Paetsch, D

Seth’s Comments: Good season overall with WHL Moose Jaw, and for Team Canada. He will continue to develop his two-way game in Moose Jaw again this season, and will likely make a smooth transition into Portland in 2003-04.

Rick’s Comments: Smooth skating defenseman had a solid year last year and should be back in Moose Jaw for 2002-2003. He will probably have a good chance to step onto the team in two or three years.

Josh’s Comments: Paetsch is an offensive defenseman in every sense of the term. He needs to become more reliable in the defensive end before challenging for a spot in Washington, but his tremendous offensive skill from the blueline may eventually earn him a spot on the Caps should his defensive play not improve.

9. Petr Sykora, C

Seth’s Comments: An unknown in the NHL, but this guy has the tools and the talent. Whether or not he will join the Capitals this summer, or remain in Pardubice is a different story. Maybe placing him on a line with Jagr, will be be the key to his adjustment.

Rick’s Comments: The Caps were high enough on him to give up a third rounder, even though they couldn’t be sure if he would come over or not. If he does, I think the Caps hope he steps right in to the NHL

Josh’s Comments: Sykora could easily be the Capital’s #2 or #3 prospect. He is a fantastic player who has the size and two-way capabilities to be a 1st or 2nd line center in the league. He falls out of the top 5 as he has been reluctant to leave his Czech League club, HC Pardubice. Jaromir Jagr would be a good bargaining chip in convincing Sykora to come over to North America. If he can easily adjust to the NHL-style, he could be on the Cap roster by the middle of the 2002-2003 season.

10. Ivan Nepriayev, C

Seth’s Comments: Ivan was one of two Capitals centermen in the prospect depth charts. Had a great season in the tournament department, where he was arguably the best Russian center. He will need to put on some pounds, to become a strong two-way pivot for the Caps.

Rick’s Comments: Seems to have had a couple of good international tournaments, and bulked up a bit in the last couple of years. Hopefully he can come over and play a year in the AHL to get used to the North American style of play.

Josh’s Comments: Nepriayev has become a much different player from when he was drafted. He is 6-2, but is only 185 pounds. Despite his wiry frame, Nepriayev has become an extremely effective physcial player. If he comes to North America and continues to develop in Portland as he did in Russia, Nepriayev can be an impact two-way player sometime within the next 3 seasons.