In what could be the team’s last official on-ice function due to the impending NHL work stoppage in September, the Washington Capitals held their annual summer development camp at their training facility, Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton, Md., the week of July 19-23. The players in attendance were a who’s who of recent first round draft choices and prospects that arrived in trades over the course of this past season.
Of the 30 players in camp (18 forwards, eight defensemen and four goaltenders), eight spent time with Washington during the 2003-04 season. They are forwards Owen Fussey, Boyd Gordon, Brooks Laich, Alexander Semin and Brian Sutherby and defensemen Steve Eminger, Shaone Morrisonn and Nolan Yonkman. The Capitals are counting heavily on their continued development to drastically improve last season’s dismal performance.
Four draft choices from the 2004 NHL Entry Draft held last month in Raleigh were in attendance. In fact, two of their three first round selections, defensemen Jeff Schultz and Mike Green showed why the Capitals are enamored with their potential. In regard to Schultz, the first thing one observes is his size (6’6). He is a towering presence on the blue line. Of course, one notable omission from the camp was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Alexander Ovechkin. Second round pick Chris Bourque and third round pick Clayton Barthel also had an opportunity to showcase their skills. Three of the four 2004 draftees play in the Western Hockey League, with the lone exception being Bourque who will leave Cushing Academy to enroll at Boston University this fall.
As the Capitals moved high-priced veterans in cost-cutting moves last season, numerous prospects were added to their system. Six of these prospects were on-hand at Piney Orchard. Those players are: Jared Aulin (from LA), Tomas Fleischmann (from Detroit), Jonas Johansson (from Colorado), Jakub Klepis (from Buffalo), Laich (from Ottawa) and Morrisonn (from Boston).
One player whom the Capitals are particularly fond of is forward Stephen Werner. Werner, a third round selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, is a local product from Bethesda, Md. Werner was a member of the US WJC team that won the gold medal in January in Finland, and he just completed his sophomore campaign at UMass. In addition to Werner, the Capitals invited two other area players to participate: Kyle Laughlin and Garrett Roe. Laughlin spent time this past season with two teams in the United States Hockey League, and his father played for the Capitals as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs. Roe will be returning to Shattuck St. Mary’s in the fall.
The roster of camp invites broken down by position:
Forwards: Jared Aulin, Chris Bourque, Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann, Owen Fussey, Boyd Gordon, Jonas Johansson, Matt Johnson, Jakub Klepis, Brooks Laich, Kyle Laughlin (free agent invitee), Josh Robertson, Garrett Roe (free agent invitee), Alexander Semin, Brian Sutherby, Andreas Valdix, Steve Werner.
Defense: Clayton Barthel, Steve Eminger, Mike Green, Jesse Lane, Shaone Morrisonn, Louis Robitaille, Jeff Schultz, Nolan Yonkman.
Goalies: Maxime Daigneault, Justin Eddy, Jeff Harvey, Wyatt Russell.