Europeans headline Washington Capitals Top 20 prospects

By Sean Shapiro

Chandler Stephenson - Washington Capitals

Photo: Chandler Stephenson was one of the biggest risers among the Washington Capitals Top 20 prospects in 2015-16. The third-year pro appeared in nine games for the Capitals and recorded 28 points in 46 AHL games (courtesy of Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images).



10. (14) Zach Sanford, LW, 7.0D
Drafted: 2nd round, 61st overall, 2013

Sanford is still a raw prospect but really impressed this season with Boston College as a sophomore with 39 points (13 goals, 26 assists) in 41 games, helping his team reach the Frozen Four. He’s a natural goal scorer and has shown that at the collegiate level.

His size (6’4, 195 pounds) is enticing on the wing and he can impact games as a scorer and as a physical force. He’ll need at least one more season of college hockey, but the foundation is being built for a nice jump to the AHL in two seasons.

9. (9) Christian Djoos, D, 7.0C
Drafted: 7th round, 195th overall, 2012

The seventh round pick has turned into a nice European find for Washington and made his full-time jump to North America this season. He appeared in 62 regular season games with the Hershey Bears and had eight goals and 14 assists from the blue line.

Djoos is smaller at 6’0, 162 pounds but makes up for it with his overall game. He progressed as the season went along with his transition to smaller ice and improved against a heavy forecheck. The lefthanded defenseman could be a good depth player in the NHL some day.

8. (7) Vitek Vanecek, G, 7.5D
Drafted: 2nd round, 39th overall, 2014

A bit of a logjam in Hershey kept Vanecek in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays this season, where the 20 year old appeared in 32 games and posted a 2.03 goals against average and .917 save percentage.

Vanecek is a quick goalie and makes up for his slimmer frame (6’1, 180 pounds) with his movement and how he plays the angles. He has potential to be good NHL goalie, but patience will be a virtue for the young Czech as he is still at least three seasons from that opportunity.

7. (18) Travis Boyd, C, 6.5C
Drafted: 6th round, 177th overall, 2011

The 22 year old rookie surprised many with his offensive output this season for Hershey in the AHL. Boyd had 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists) and proved he was a natural playmaker in the AHL, just like he was in college with Minnesota.

He has good vision and a very strong two-way game. His season in Hershey has grabbed the attention of those in Washington, and Boyd could turn into a reliable third- or fourth-line center with some offensive upside in the NHL.

6. (12) Chandler Stephenson, 7.0D
Drafted: 3rd round, 77th overall, 2012

Stephenson was a big riser in the Capitals prospect pool who matured greatly during his sophomore professional season. He spent nine games with Washington and showed he was ready to play a bottom-six role in the NHL.

He dealt with an upper-body injury that cost him time in Hershey, but he still pieced together a nice season with 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 46 games. Stephenson is a strong skater and reliable penalty killer that can fill that role in the NHL.  

5. (6) Jonas Siegenthaler, D, 7.0C
Drafted: 2nd round, 57th overall, 2015

He’s a long-term project, but the 18 year old defenseman has turned into an exciting project for Washington. He spent most of this season playing with Zurich in the Swiss league against men, and recently joined the Hershey Bears in the AHL.

He’s still learning how to be an offensive threat from the blue line, but his defensive prowess is impressive. Siegenthaler is strong in his own zone and was one of the most impressive Swiss players at the World Junior Championships.

4. (4) Riley Barber, RW/C, 7.0C
Drafted: 6th round, 167th overall, 2012

After a successful collegiate career with the University of Miami the 21 year old forward was one of the AHL’s better rookies this season. In 74 games he had 55 points (26 goals, 29 assists) and stayed healthy throughout the season.

Barber plays like a power forward and spent more time on the wing than at center with Hershey. A late-round draft pick, Barber has worked his way up the Capitals prospect chart the past couple years and has shown leadership qualities that could be valuable in an NHL locker room.

3. (3) Jakub Vrana, RW, 8.0D
Drafted: 1st round, 13th overall, 2014

Vrana could have climbed to the top of the prospect rankings if his first North American season wasn’t shortened by injury. The 20 year old Czech injured his wrist six games into the season and missed three months after surgery.

Once he returned he established himself as a point-per-game player with Hershey in the AHL. Vrana finished the regular season with 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 36 games. He’s a strong skater with a quick release, but there will be questions about his health as he continues to adapt to the North American game.

2. (1) Madison Bowey, D, 8.0C
Drafted: 2nd round, 53rd overall, 2013

Bowey made the jump to the AHL and went through a little bit of a learning curve with the Hershey Bears. The 20 year old had 29 points (five goals, 24 assists) in 70 games but was better as the season went along.

The right-handed shot isn’t afraid to shoot and he’s a good skater. He added some size this season, but still needs to get stronger as he progresses in the professional game.

There have been a couple miscues during the season with turnovers and penalties, but when focused Bowey is on track for a successful NHL career.

1. (2) Ilya Samsonov, G, 8.5C
Drafted: 1st round, 22nd overall, 2015

The 19 year old Russian grabbed a position as a backup in the KHL this season and did a nice job for a Magnitogorsk team that contended throughout the season. He also started in the playoffs.

In 19 regular season games Samsonov had a .925 save percentage and 2.04 goals against average. In the playoffs, he had a 2.29 goals against average and .916 save percentage. He still has two years remaining on his KHL contract, but the teenager is showing promise and exciting Capitals management.

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