Europeans headline Washington Capitals Top 20 prospects

By Sean Shapiro
Zach Sanford - Boston College

Photo: Boston College Eagle and Washington Capitals prospect Zach Sanford had a breakout season in 2015-16 with 39 points in 41 games. (courtesy of John Crouch/Icon Sportswire)



It’s the most important position on the ice and the Washington Capitals have invested heavily in goalies amongst their Top 20 prospects. Washington has a trio of goalies in the Top 20 including two in the top 10, while you can’t forget the franchise goalie Braden Holtby is only 26.

Washington also has a good collection of puck-moving defenseman, while there are a couple intriguing prospects and projects at other positions.

20. (NR) Adam Carlson, G, 6.0D
Signed as college free agent 2016

The newest goalie to the Capitals system, Carlson signed a two-year entry level deal with Washington on March 28 after playing one year of collegiate hockey at Mercyhurst College. In his one season for the Lakers, Carlson posted a .919 save percentage and a 2.85 goals against average. He joined the Hershey Bears on an ATO before his contract kicks in next season.

19. (NR) Steven Spinner, C, 6.0D
Drafted: 6th round, 159th overall, 2014

As a freshman this season at University of Nebraska Omaha the Minnesota native had 11 points in 33 games as one of the younger players on the team. Spinner has decent size at 6’0, 202 pounds and uses that to his advantage.

He’s improved in the defensive zone and is now starting to play more of a two-way game after a slow start to the season. Spinner is a long-term project for Washington who will spend at least two more seasons, likely three, in college.

18. (20) Shane Gersich, C, 6.0D
Drafted: 5th round, 134th overall, 2014

Gersich won a national title this spring with the University of North Dakota after finishing up his USHL career in 2014-15. In 37 games he had 11 points (two goals, nine assists) and was more of a checking winger for North Dakota.

He isn’t known for his size (5’11, 175 pounds) but plays bigger than his playing size and weight. He could step into more of a scoring role next season for North Dakota and really could flourish in that spot. He has at least two more seasons of college hockey before really being a consideration for the Hershey Bears in the AHL.

17. (17) Caleb Herbert, C, 6.0D
Drafted: 5th round, 142 overall, 2010

Herbert split time between the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays and AHL Hershey Bears this season and has still struggled to make the jump to the professional level. In 26 games with Hershey the winger had just two assists, though he was able to put the puck in the net in South Carolina.

Herbert will need to make big strides next season to prove he’s still a worthwhile project for Washington.

16. (19) Kevin Elgestal, RW, 6.0D
Drafted: 7th round, 194th overall, 2014

The 19 year old Swede split time between Frolunda’s junior team and HC Vita Hasten in Sweden’s second highest division. He played against men and started to find a role, while he joined the Hershey Bears for practice after his Swedish season came to an end.

Elgestal has the makings of a power forward and will be easier to dissect as his confidence grows playing against men more regularly. He has a quick release, but is still much more of a long-term project for Washington.

15. (16) Stanislev Galiev, W, 6.5D
Drafted: 3rd round, 86th overall, 2010

Galiev moved into a fringe role with Washington this season and appeared in 24 NHL games. During that time he had three assists and was consistent, but did nothing relatively noteworthy to grab a full-time spot.

However, it was a big stride for the 24 year old after he spent parts of the 2014-15 season in the ECHL with the Reading Royals. Galiev’s overall game is still a big question mark. He has the physical tools to be a depth scorer for Washington but needs to work on decision making and his overall play.

14. (13) Brian Pinho, C, 6.5D
Drafted: 6th round, 174th overall, 2013

Pinho became a bigger part of the team at Providence College during his sophomore season as the Friars came off their first national title one year prior. Pinho had 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 39 games and helped Providence make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Pinho is a very good skater who became stronger this season and improved in the defensive zone. He has at least one year of college hockey remaining before he makes the jump to Hershey and eventually tries to make it as a depth scorer in the NHL.

13. (11) Tyler Lewington, D, 6.5C
Drafted: 7th round, 204th overall, 2013

Roster shuffle got the best of Lewington this season as he spent some of the campaign in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays. In 14 ECHL games he had one goal and five assists, while he had six points (three goals, three assists) in 32 AHL game with Hershey.

The 21 year old’s transition to pro hockey shouldn’t be viewed as too much of a worry for Washington. He doesn’t get pushed around or intimidated in his own zone. He’s improving and should take big strides next season with his first year of pro hockey out of the way.

12. (15) Thomas Di Pauli, C, 6.5D
Drafted: 4th round, 100th overall, 2012

Di Pauli finished up his collegiate career at Notre Dame as one of the more decorated scorers over the past two seasons. He had 32 points in 37 games and helped Notre Dame in it’s rise up the NCAA rankings.

Di Pauli should make the jump to the pro game next season, likely with the Hershey Bears in the AHL, and he could be quite an effective player. He’s a quick skater with good energy who projects potentially as a bottom-six forward in the NHL with some offensive pop.

11. (10) Philip Grubauer, G, 7.0D
Drafted: 4th Round, 112th overall, 2010

Grubauer moved into the back-up spot in Washington this season and played well in limited opportunities. He had a .918 save percentage and 2.32 goals against average in 22 games and watched Braden Holtby closely.

Working with Holtby and Capitals goalie coach Mitch Korn could be good for Grubauer’s development and the 24 year old should be even better next season. He’s likely a career back-up, especially if he remains in Washingtion.

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