Photo: Defenseman Nate Schmidt is one of several promising defensive prospects the Washington Capitals have in their system. Schmidt signed with the Capitals in 2013, following his junior season at the University of Minnesota. (courtesy of Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI)
The Washington Capitals' minor league pool is full of depth defensemen but lacks game-breaking talent. Among the large group, only Nate Schmidt and Connor Carrick look like legitimate top-four defensemen at the NHL level.
Photo: Miami University forward and Washington Capitals prospect Riley Barber is currently among the top scorers in NCAA hockey with 28 points in 18 games so far in 2013-14 (courtesy of Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
Miami University forward Riley Barber entered the 2014 World Junior Championship viewed not only as an offensive leader for Team USA, but also as the team's overall leader, a point that was driven home when the USA coaching staff named Barber the team captain for this tournament.
Photo: Hershey Bears defenseman and Washington Capitals prospect Connor Carrick scored his first NHL goal during a 3-game stint with the Capitals at the start of the 2013-14 season (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)
Hershey Bears defenseman Connor Carrick has had an eventful season so far in the 2013-14 campaign. He started the season as a 19-year-old NHL rookie, suiting up for the Washington Capitals for three early-season contests. He was then sent to the Bears for more seasoning, where he has appeared in 13 games so far this season.
Photo: Erie Otters forward and Washington Capitals prospect Andre Burakovsky should be an offensive catalyst for Sweden at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
The Erie Otters have sent a trio of players to this year's World Junior Championship, the most well-known of the three being Team Canada center, Connor McDavid. But Team Sweden sports the other two Otters taking part in this tournament, with one of them being forward Andre Burakovsky.
Photo: Chandler Stephenson is one of several offensively gifted forwards in the Washington Capitals prospect pool. Stephenson was selected in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Over the past few seasons, Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee has shown a tendency towards drafting European and college-bound prospects. As a result, the Capitals only have eight prospects competing in the junior ranks, three of which are developing in the USHL before making the jump to college hockey.