Capitals: Three prospects make the team

By Josh Land

Normal teenagers leave home for college, to get a job, or just to leave

Normal teenagers leave home for college, to get a job, or
just to leave. Steve Eminger, Boyd Gordon, and Alex Semin are not
normal teenagers.


The Washington Capitals opened their season Oct. 9 with
three players under 20 years old on the roster. Eminger, Gordon, and Semin were
drafted together in the first round of the 2002 entry draft, and reunited on
the Caps Thursday night.


Gordon was excited to hear his name announced as a member of
the Caps in what was his NHL debut.


“It was a great feeling,” Gordon said. “It’s something I’ve
been waiting for my whole life.”


Eminger played on the top defensive pairing. Eminger, a
veteran of 17 NHL games, experienced opening night in Washington last season.
Semin was a scratch for the game, and will only get spot work early in the
season as he adjusts to the language, culture, and to the American game.


Gordon earned his first NHL assist on the Caps’ first goal
of the season during his first shift. Gordon slipped the puck to Jagr while
being sandwiched against the boards. Jagr created an opening for himself with a
nice move in the circle and fired a quick shot past Garth Snow just over two
minutes into Washington’s 6-1 win over the New York Islanders. 


“I think that was a good way to start,” Gordon said. “I’m
playing with two great players [Jagr and Kip Miller], so I want to take
advantage of it.”


Gordon displayed a hard-nosed brand of hockey in his first
game. He fought for every puck, always skated hard and gave an honest effort in
his own end. At this stage in his development, Gordon can be compared to
Phoenix Coyotes’ center Jan Hrdina, who was Jagr’s center in his final season
in Pittsburgh.


“He does remind me a lot [of Hrdina],” Jagr said. “He’s a
young kid. He’s a great player, but he’s going to get even better. From our
first practice together, it surprised me the way he plays.”


Gordon relishes the opportunity to play alongside a talent
like Jagr. The two seem likely to develop chemistry and Gordon hopes to serve
as a good complement to his linemates.


“Kip Miller and Jagr are very creative, so I just try to get
them the puck and get open for them,” Gordon said. “[Jagr’s] been good with me.
He shows me the ropes and it’s been great so far.”


Washington head coach Bruce Cassidy also said Gordon did a
good job in his first NHL game, fitting in well with Miller and Jagr.


“He seemed to have pucks hitting him all the time in passing
lanes, on penalty kill, so it tells me he’s in the right place,” Cassidy said.
“It didn’t look like he interrupted Miller and Jagr’s chemistry. It was a good
fit tonight.”


Gordon had a successful first game and hopes to continue
playing well enough to stay with the Caps. Gordon is one of only a few players
Washington does not need to pass through waiver to be sent to the Portland
Pirates, the team’s AHL affiliate. If Gordon continues to play like he did
against the Islanders Thursday, he won’t have to worry about that.


“I just try to work hard and skate hard, focus on my defense
and chip in here and there offensively,” Gordon said. “If I can continue to do
that, then I think I can be successful here.”