Capitals Top 20 prospects

By Courtney Wagner





The Washington Capitals are in a rebuilding phase
and will be looking at a lot of youngsters to step up this season.  Many of
the prospects listed could see time with the big club this year.

Top 20 at a Glance

1. Alexander Ovechkin, LW
2. Alexander Semin, LW
3. Eric Fehr, RW
4. Steve Eminger, D
5. Shaone Morrisonn, D
6. Jakub Klepis, C
7. Mike Green, D
8. Tomas Fleischmann, LW
9. Chris Bourque, C
10. Maxime Daigneault, G
11. Boyd Gordon, RW
12. Jeff Schultz, D
13. Jonas Johansson, RW
14. Jared Aulin, C
15. Sasha Pokulok, D
16. Joe Finley, D
17. Owen Fussey, RW
18. Sami Lepisto, D
19. Steve Werner, RW
20. Johnny Oduya, D

1. Alexander Ovechkin, LW
The first selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Alexander Ovechkin is one to watch as the
NHL returns after a year off. He was named Best Forward and
to the all-star team at the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championships. The
20-year-old is ready for the NHL and displays this with his work at both ends of
the ice where he showcases his skill and speed. In 2004-05 he played
37 games for Moscow Dynamo in his native Russia where he had 13 goals and 27
points and 32 penalty minutes. Ovechkin is the future of the Capitals and should
be an integral part of the team this season.

2. Alexander Semin, LW

After failing to
honor his
entry-level contract with the Capitals, Alexander Semin, a first round pick in
2002, returned to Russia to play with Tolyatti Lada. The Portland Pirates could have
utilized Semin and he would have had the opportunity to develop chemistry with
other Washington prospects, but he played well in Russia. In 50 games he netted
19 goals, had 54 penalty minutes and finished with 30 points on the season.
Semin already has 52 NHL games under his belt and should be back on the ice with
the Capitals for 2005-06.


 

3. Eric Fehr, RW

A first round pick, in 2003, Eric
Fehr was scoring king of the WHL last season, leading all goal scorers with 59
and was the top point-getter with 111 in 71 games. He was the recipient of the Four
Broncos Memorial Trophy for WHL MVP, the Bobby Clarke Trophy for being the
league’s leading scorer and was named to the East first all-star team. Under
contract with the Capitals, Fehr has tremendous offensive upside, with toughness
and goal scoring potential, and has a good shot at playing in a Capitals jersey
this season.

 

4. Steve Eminger, D

Another first round pick in 2002,
Steve Eminger re-signed with the Capitals in August as a restricted free agent.
He played for the Pirates during the lockout and was the lone representative
from the team at the AHL All-Star Game. In 62 games in 2004-05 he had three
goals, 20 points and 40 penalty minutes. Solid at both ends of the ice, Eminger
should be suiting up with the Capitals again this season.

 

5. Shaone Morrisonn, D

Shaone Morrisonn spent the 2004-05
season with the Pirates where he had four goals, 18 points and a -17 rating in
71 games. He can be utilized in every game situation and has been developing his
offensive game. He re-signed with the Capitals in August and should make the jump
to be with the Capitals full-time this season.

 

6. Jakub Klepis, C
In his first AHL season Jakub Klepis played well, with 13 goals and 27 points in
78 games, although his -26 rating was worst on the team. Klepis is solid in the
faceoff circle and has a lot of offensive potential and he should be back in the
AHL with Hershey for the 2004-05 season.

 

7. Mike Green, D

Stellar play and an explosion of
offense have helped Mike Green’s stock rise. Playing for the Saskatoon
Blades in the WHL, Green was third in the league with 52 assists, had 66 points
in 67 games and had a fourth best +36 rating in the league. A feisty player with
good vision, Green was named to the WHL East First All-Star team for 2004-05.
Green is under contract with the Capitals and it is likely he will continue to
develop his skills in the AHL with Hershey this season.

 

8. Tomas Fleischmann, LW

Tomas Fleischmann’s jump from the WHL
to the AHL was not a smooth one. He showed a lack of consistency in his play and
effort level. He was unable to put up big numbers, with seven goals, 19 points
and a -5 rating in 53 games. Although he is skilled, he is behind Ovechkin and
Semin on the depth chart and will spend more time developing his skills in the
AHL with Hershey this season.

 

9. Chris Bourque, C

The son of NHL Hall of Famer Ray
Bourque, Chris had a good year with the Boston University Terriers, scoring 10
goals and 23 points in 35 games. He was also the hero of the Beanpot
championship where he netted the game-winner in overtime. He was a member of
Team USA at the 2005 WJCs, but was sidelined after a
knee injury against Belarus. He joined Portland for six games in 2004-05 where
he had a goal and an assist. He signed an entry-level contract with the
Capitals in August, and if the team is hurting for bodies, could start the
season with them.

 

10. Maxime Daigneault, G

The only
goaltender in Washington’s top 20, Maxime Daigneault split his time
between the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and Portland last year. While
with the Pirates he had three wins, a .906 save percentage and a 2.91 goals
against average in 11 games. Daigneault should see a lot more playing time in
the AHL this season with Hershey as Maxime Ouellet assumes the backup role in
Washington.

 

11. Boyd Gordon, RW

A natural leader, Boyd Gordon was a
workhorse for the Pirates in 2004-05, playing in all 80 regular season games. He
also improved offensively, netting 17 goals and 39 points. Gordon has strong
work ethic and is versatile with the ability to help out in different roles on
the ice, because of this he should be a regular on the ice for the Capitals this
season.

 

12. Jeff Schultz, D

Jeff Schultz had somewhat of a
disappointing season with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL in 2004-05. In 72 games
he had two goals, 29 points and a -7 rating. He has good size and should be a
physical presence on the ice once he fills out. He signed an entry-level
contract in August and will spend more time in 2005-06 developing his play in
the lower ranks.

 

13. Jonas Johansson, RW

Jonas Johansson spent most of the
2004-05 season in Portland, although was sent down to South Carolina to regain
confidence. During his five-game stint with the Stingrays he played well,
posting four goals and six points. In 50 games with the Pirates he had three
goals, nine points and a -10 rating. Johansson is an intelligent player with
strong playmaking abilities. He can be expected to build on his experience in
Hershey this season.

 

14. Jared Aulin, C

Jared Aulin has had to battle back
after a shoulder injury that limited him to 10 games in 2003-04. He answered the
call by scoring 11 goals in 65 games and had 39 points which tied him with two
other players on the Pirates for third in scoring. A determined player and a
leader, Aulin also possesses creativity and has the possibility to become a
premier playmaker. He does have experience at the pro level having played 17
games for Los Angeles in 2002-03. This could be the year he gets a chance with
the Capitals, although the center position already has Zubrus, Cassels and
Halpern.

 

15. Sasha Pokulok, D

The
Capitals selected Sasha Pokulok 14th overall in the 2005 draft. He was the first
NCAA player selected in the draft this year and was the first ever Cornell
player selected in the first round. He has good size and is a strong skater with
excellent puckhandling skills. In 2003-04 Pokulok played for the Notre Dame
Hounds and was named to the SJHL all-rookie team. While at Cornell in 2004-05 he
was named to the ECACHL all-rookie team as well as the Florida Classic
all-tournament team. In 26 games he had three goals, 10 points and 33 penalty
minutes. He will return to Cornell this fall for his sophomore year.

 

16. Joe Finley, D

The
Capitals obtained a second choice in the first round of this year’s draft in a
trade with Colorado. They chose another big defenseman in Joe Finley who stands
at 6’7 and 229 lbs. His size will mean it will take time for the rest of
his skills to develop, but he is strong on his skates and finishes his checks
hard. In 2004-05 with Sioux Falls of the USHL he had three goals, 13 points and
181 penalty minutes in 55 games. He will continue his development with the
University of North Dakota this season.

 

17. Owen Fussey, RW

Owen
Fussey had the best plus/minus of any Pirate last season with a +6 and in 71
games. He had 14 goals and 26 points. Not a flashy player, Fussey is a hard
worker and possesses grit and character. He will be in Hershey again for
the 2005-06 season.

 

18. Sami Lepisto, D

Drafted
by the Capitals in 2004, Sami Lepisto improved his numbers in the 2004-05
season. Playing for Jokerit Helsinki, he netted seven goals and 25 points and
had a +13 rating. A solid skater who is used on the power play, Lepisto is also
capable of jumping into the rush. He will continue his development in Finland
this season.

 

19. Steve Werner, RW

A senior
at the University of Massachusetts, Steve Werner had his best season as a
freshman, but last year he doubled his goal total with 14 and had 27 points in
38 games and a -9 rating. Werner also has experience at the international level
after playing for the gold medal winning Team USA at the World Junior
Championships in 2004. He will finish out his NCAA career with the Minutemen
this season.

 

20. Johnny Oduya, D

Once
again rounding out the Capitals top 20 is Johnny Oduya. A seventh round
selection in the 2001 draft, Oduya moved on to the Swedish Elite League after
playing two seasons in the QMJHL. He doesn’t put up huge numbers, but had two
goals, six points at 139 penalty minutes in 49 games Djurgardens in 2004-05. Not
under contract with the Capitals, he should be back in Sweden this season.




 

Sandor Roberts, John Logue and DJ Powers contributed to this article. Copyright
2005 Hockey’s Future.  Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without
permission of the editorial staff.