Capitals NCAA prospect update

By Nick Lowman

The Washington Capitals currently have five prospects competing at the collegiate level, which includes one center, two defensemen and two goalies. One will be competing in the upcoming Frozen Four.

Phil DeSimone, C

University of New Hampshire
Drafted 2007 3rd round (84th overall)

Highly-touted rookie Phil DeSimone struggled to make an impact as a freshman with the Wildcats this year. On a roster loaded with offensive talent, DeSimone notched only two goals and added 10 assists in 37 tilts. One of the scoring leaders in the USHL last season, he had trouble finding any offensive rhythm in his rookie collegiate campaign. Scoring opportunities haven’t been as plentiful this season as he was only able to register 35 shots on goal.

Although DeSimone didn’t have the type of season he expected, the native of East Amherst, New York has a lot of potential for a good college career. He has great wheels and can see the ice well. Known more for being a playmaker, he possesses good patience with the puck.

As DeSimone continues his development at the collegiate level, he’ll need to consistently work on his two-way game and also improve his shot velocity. An extremely hard worker both off and on the ice, DeSimone has the qualities to be true leader for the Wildcats in the future.

Andrew Thomas, D

Denver University
Drafted 2005 4th round (109th overall)

Thomas has been rock-solid all season long for the Pioneers, who took an early exit from the NCAA tournament after falling to Wisconsin 6-2 in the Midwest Regional game. The senior captain lead the roster with a plus-14 while also contributing eight points (1 goal and 7 assists) throughout the season. His excellent leadership helped pave the way as Denver claimed the 2008 WCHA playoff championship, earning the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

A defensive defenseman, Thomas is a fierce competitor who plays a physical game and established himself as one of the league’s best defensive blueliners. He is strong on his skates and is rarely caught out of position. The Bow, New Hampshire native will use his 6’2, 215-pound frame to his advantage by defending opponents one on one or delivering big hits. Not known for his offensive ability, Thomas does possess a heavy shot and can contribute every once in a while with a timely goal.

Throughout his collegiate career, he has developed into a more consistent defenseman. He’s faced the top forwards every night, making him a reliable player. His leadership skills will be dearly missed as Thomas moves his game to the next level.

Joe Finley, D

University of North Dakota
Drafted 2005 1st round (27th overall)

In his junior season at North Dakota, Finley has played a key role in helping the Fighting Sioux compete for a national championship. The towering 6’7, 245-pound blueliner leads the team with an astounding plus-25 and is fourth among defensemen in scoring with four goals and 11 assists. The shutdown defenseman helped North Dakota reach the NCAA Frozen Four for the fourth consecutive year.

A physical bruiser who plays with a mean streak, Finley plays a shut-down style of hockey and does it very well. His ability to take the game over defensively makes him an asset to any team. Finley’s size and aggressive play make him extremely tough to play against, especially on the penalty kill. Although rarely used offensively, the junior defenseman possesses a cannon of a shot from the point.

Since being drafted in the first round in 2005, Finley has made strides in his development. He has improved his skating although he still does not possess the speed to compete at the highest level. His puckhandling skills will also need to improve in order to be an effective player in his own zone. Finley does have the focus and work ethic to improve his overall game.

Dan Dunn, G

St. Cloud State University
Drafted 2007 6th round (154th overall)

In his first season for the Huskies, Dunn played in 10 games going 3-2-2 with a 2.63 GAA and a .910 save percentage. Playing behind sophomore standout goalie Jase Weslosky (NYI), it will be a tough battle vying for the starting role next season.

In just his rookie season, Dunn is a raw goaltender who possesses quick reflexes and athleticism. The freshman from Oshawa, Ontario stands tall in net with his 6’5, 210-pound frame. As Dunn continues to develop and fine-tune his skills at the collegiate level, he’ll need to focus on his timing and anticipation. Because of his size, there is a tendency to cheat and make the first move to block a shot. He shows a lot of five hole and has the tendency to get beat there.

Justin Mrazek, G

Union College
Drafted 2004 8th round (230th overall)

In his final season with the Dutchmen, Mrazek split time between the pipes with freshman goaltender Corey Milan. In his 17 starts this season, the senior goalie posted a 9-6-0 record with a 2.45 GAA, .912 save percentage and one shutout. His last game was a 3-2 loss against Cornell in game one of the ECAC hockey quarterfinal series. Mrazek played a very strong game for the Dutchmen but wasn’t able to get enough help offensively.

Another tall goalie prospect, Mrazek is a butterfly goalie with a tendency to play deep in his crease. With a quick glove, he is excellent at taking away the lower portion of the goal and has a keen eye for finding the puck through traffic. With a tremendous work ethic, Mrazek does a nice job responding after a loss, showing good confidence and focus in his next start.

Mrazek has improved his game substantially throughout the course of his career. However, he continues to struggle with controlling rebounds effectively and still lacks the aggressiveness to challenge shooters consistently. It’s far from certain that he would be offered a contract.  The Capitals have an Aug. 15 deadline on him.