The Washington Capitals do not possess many prospects in the junior level this season and those they do have are all from the 2012 draft class. This is not an indication of thin talent for the Capitals, but that many of their prospects are taking different routes such as NCAA or playing in Europe.
This season Tom Wilson leads the small group of players in the CHL and his play has been strong this season. Strong seasons is a common theme among this group of players which also includes Wilson's teammate in Plymouth, Connor Carrick, Regina Pats forward Chandler Stephenson, and the bruising defensemen from Calgary, Jaynen Rissling.
Tom Wilson, RW, Plymouth Whalers
Acquired: 1st round (16th overall) in 2012
Tom Wilson is a power forward who is already recognized as a hard-hitting, physical player. He is a prospect with a lot of upside and, with some playing growth and maturity, can develop into a well rounded player. Going into this season, Wilson needed to work on his puck skills as well as playing a more offensive role with the Whalers. Wilson's size and toughness make him an ideal player to put in front of net to screen goalies and score rebounds. Wilson has had success cleaning up goals left from rebounds.
Signs are pointing in the right direction for the young winger. Wilson has already netted 12 goals and assisted on another 22 goals, already surpassing his 2011-12 totals.
Wilson was one of the final cuts of Canada for the World Junior Championships.
Connor Carrick, D, Plymouth Whalers
Acquired: 5th round (137th overall) in 2012
Tom Wilson's teammate in Plymouth, Connor Carrick is having a strong first season in the OHL. Much was made of Carrick's decision to join Plymouth instead of honoring his commitment to Michigan (CCHA). Carrick insisted the decision was his own and the Capitals had no influence over his choice to play with Plymouth.
Carrick is a smart player and solid two-way defensemen with lots of offensive upside. He has good decision making and is quick with the puck. He can make the quick pass, skates well with the puck, and has a strong and accurate shot. One area for growth is Carrick's physical play. He has good size and needs to use that size more to intimidate players in his own end.
In his first season, Carrick was named the assistant captain, an unexpected honor for the 18-year-old. Clearly, there is a level of maturity to his game. There have been a number of injuries to the Whalers lineup this season, but Carrick has been a steady and consistent part of the lineup. He has provided the Whalers will good offense with eight goals and 16 assists in his first 33 games.
Chandler Stephenson, LW, Regina Pats
Acquired: 3rd round (77th overall) in 2012
This season Chandler Stephenson was to build on his 2011-12 breakout season where he scored 22 goals and had 42 points in 55 games for Pats. Stephenson is a smaller two-way forward with a lot of offensive upside, good speed, and good puck skills. Going into this season, he was expected to be the Pats first line center.
The 18-year-old winger started out the 2012-13 season strong scoring 10 points in his first 12 games, but would be sidelined for almost two months from a freak injury involving a skate to the foot. He returned on December 27th and has since managed 13 points in seven games.
Jaynen Rissling, D, Calgary Hitmen
Acquired: 7th round (197th overall) in 2012
Rissling is a big, physical defenseman who showed some offensive talent last season with 23 points in 55 games. In addition to adding some offense, Rissling has no issues dropping the gloves, adding to a long list of skills he is developing which could improve his long term upside. One area the 19-year-old needs to improve is his skating. The 6'4, 222 pound defenseman is still developing his frame and he needs his skating to keep up with his growth. His skating can put him at a disadvantage especially during the transition in the neutral zone.
This season Rissling's offensive numbers continue to impress as he has 17 points in his first 38 games for the Hitmen. He reads plays well and likes to pinch in the offensive zone. However, his slow foot speed can be noticed if he is out of position. Rissling has the ability to be a shutdown defensemen in his own end who can contribute offensively, but he needs to be more consistent in his play.
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