Capitals offseason news wrap-up

By Sandor Roberts

As the summer days slowly melted away, the Washington Capitals took a practical approach toward player signings, successfully getting the majority of their prospects under contract for the upcoming season. Prospects did not have the opportunity to showcase their talent in the Traverse City Rookie Tournament this year however. The Capitals had been a participant in this tournament the past two years, but bowed out this year for financial reasons.

New ECHL affiliate

The Capitals entered into an affiliation agreement with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. The Stingrays will be the secondary affiliate of the Capitals, in addition to primary affiliate, the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates. This is the third time that the Capitals have had an affiliation with a team in the ECHL. Previously, they were with the Hampton Roads Admirals (1990-2000) and the Richmond Renegades (2000-2003). South Carolina had a 39-28-5 record in 2003-04 under head coach Jason Fitzsimmons.

World Cup of Hockey

Alexander Ovechkin, the first overall selection of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, represented Russia at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Ovechkin played two games, scoring one goal, and was a +2. Rastislav Stana went 0-1 in two games with Slovakia, recording 37 saves, and finishing with a 4.08 GAA.

WJC Camps

Three of the Capitals first-round draft choices attended Canada’s Summer Development Camp in Calgary last month, right wing Eric Fehr (2003) and defenseman Mike Green and Jeff Schultz (2004 draftees). The United States held their Junior Evaluation Camp in Grand Forks, N.D., the site of the 2005 WJC. The camp included teams from Sweden and Finland. Chris Bourque was on the US squad, Oscar Hedman suited up for Sweden, and Pasi Salonen played for Finland.

Contracts signed

Twenty-four-year-old goaltender Rastislav Stana refused to sign with Washington and instead inked a one-year deal with Södertälje of the Swedish Elite League. Due to the departure of Stana, Maxime Daigneault, who signed a three-year contract in May after spending four seasons with the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL, will most likely be the backup goaltender in Portland. Another young netminder, Justin Eddy, was signed out of Quinnipiac University and is a good candidate to join South Carolina.

Three players brought into the organization by way of trades last season are under contract and are expected to play a big role in Portland. Forwards Jonas Johansson (drafted by Colorado 28th overall in 2002) and Tomas Fleischmann (selected with the 63rd pick of the 2002 draft by Detroit) both signed contracts on June 1. Both players spent time adjusting to the smaller rinks in North America in the WHL, Johansson with the Kamloops Blazers and Fleischmann with the Moose Jaw Warriors.

In early July, center Jakub Klepis agreed to a three-year deal with the Capitals. Klepis spent the 2001-02 season with the Portland Winter Hawks of the WHL, but returned home to the Czech Republic to play for HC Slavia Praha the past two seasons. Klepis was originally drafted by Ottawa in 2002, subsequently dealt to Buffalo in 2003, and was obtained by the Capitals in March in exchange for Mike Grier.

In addition, the Capitals re-signed goaltender Maxime Ouellet and defenseman Nolan Yonkman. Both are expected to be big contributors with Portland this season.

Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without written permission of the editorial staff.