Photo: Washington Capitals prospect Philipp Grubauer, shown here playing for the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs, has performed impressively so far in the ECHL (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
The ECHL and the ECHL All-Star Game has quietly become one of the top showcases and grooming grounds for upcoming National Hockey League goaltenders.
Just ask the Washington Capitals.
Photo: With 12 goals and 12 assists through 39 games, Tomas Kundratek has been the top producing defenseman for the Hershey Bears this season. (Mark Goldman/Icon SMI)
The Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals, did not get as much help as many AHL teams did with the lockout. The team has struggled at times offensively, but has stayed in contention because of the play of goaltender Braden Holtby. With the NHL lockout over, Holtby was recalled to the big club, paving the way for Philipp Grubauer to lead the Bears in net.
Photo: Connor Carrick is one of only four Washington prospects currently playing in the CHL. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
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.
Photo: University of Michigan defenseman and Winnipeg Jets prospect Jacob Trouba has been a force for Team USA at the 2013 World Juniors (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
While it is difficult to call a player chosen in the top 10 of the NHL Draft a steal, the Winnipeg Jets have to be feeling good about what they've seen from their 2012 first selection, defenseman Jacob Trouba, at the 2013 World Junior Championship.
Photo: Swedish defenseman and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Tom Nilsson has previously competed internationally for his country, but this is his first time playing at the U-20 WJC (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
For Sweden's Filip Forsberg, the 2013 World Junior Championship provides a chance to cement the idea that Sweden has arrived as a hockey power at the junior level. Forsberg was a part of his country's gold medal squad at the 2012 World Juniors, with his performance at that tournament no doubt helping to solidify his stock for the 2012 NHL Draft.