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Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Christian Djoos

Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Christian Djoos

YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF CHRISTIAN DJOOS IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.

As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.

They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.

It's time to take a look at which top prospects have the tools to become full-time NHL players and what they have to do to get the call-up from Hershey.

Next up is Christian Djoos, a player who Capitals fans have been waiting to see in Washington for a long time.

PROSPECT PREVIEWS: Jakub Vrana | Nathan Walker | Chandler Stephenson

2017-18 CAPITALS PROSPECT PREVIEW: CHRISTIAN DJOOS

Position: Defenseman
Age: 22
Height: 6-0
Weight: 164 pounds
Contract: Two-Way in 2017-18, One-Way in 2018-19. Two-year, $1.3 Million (2017)

AHL Seasons: 3 (129 games)
2016-17 AHL Stats: 66 games, 13 goals, 45 assists, +9 plus/minus

PREVIEWING 2017-18 BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: Tom Wilson | Brett Connolly | Andre Burakovsky

Tarik El-Bashir's Prospect Preview:

Christian Djoos had a fantastic season last year, racking up 13 goals and 45 assists in just 66 games with the Hershey Bears.

In fact, his assist total was tied for the most among all AHL defensemen and his point total was third—two off the lead. (The guys ahead of him, by the way, are longtime AHL vets; Djoos is 22.)

After producing a season like that, the Caps are expected to give the 2012 seventh rounder every opportunity to earn a spot in Washington this fall. And given the team’s need to replace Nate Schmidt, it’s possible Djoos’ role could become a significant one—if, of course, he proves he can handle the duties of an NHL blue-liner at his size.

The Caps list Djoos at 6-foot, 164-pounds.

Winger T.J. Oshie is currently the lightest player on the roster at 189 pounds, while Taylor Chorney is the lightest defenseman at 191 pounds.

Bears Coach Troy Mann says he’s confident that Djoos’ can compensate for that lack of size with his high hockey I.Q. and savvy ability to avoid big and unnecessary collisions.  

“He doesn’t get a hit a lot,” Mann told CSN’s Capitals Faceoff Podcast this week.

The Caps have five defensemen under contract (Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik and Chorney) for next season. That’ll leave a couple of spots open, including one for a spare, when camp opens in September—and Djoos figures to head up the list of players jockeying for a job.

“I think that Djoos is a perfect candidate when you start looking at the [openings on] defense,” Mann said. “No. 1, he’s a great puck mover. You’ve really got to come to a hockey game and watch him from up top to appreciate his skill set, and his ability to break pucks out. I think the NHL in the last couple of years has certainly gone in a different direction. I don’t think you can have too many puck movers on your team, and certainly that’s something he can do.”

Djoos, who has yet to play in an NHL game, is the son of former offensive defenseman Par Djoos, who played 82 games for the Red Wings and Rangers in the early 1990’s.   

RELATED: Ranking the 10 best Capitals players of all time

Jill Sorenson's Prospect Analysis:

What He Has: Skill, limitless talent. "If you take a look at the highlights, what he can do is jaw-dropping. To be able to see that on the ice here in Washington will be something to behold. He's very smooth and he has great vision. Part of that is his elusiveness. He can see when someone is coming, and next thing you know he's put the puck in the back of the net."

What He Needs to Do: Size, Endurance. "This first month or two, if he makes the NHL roster, will be very, very important."

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Caps beat the NHL-leading Bolts, 3-1

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Caps beat the NHL-leading Bolts, 3-1

If Friday’s game against the NHL-leading Lightning was the barometer many considered it to be, the Caps’ 3-1 victory proved this much: Despite an uneven recent stretch, Alex Ovechkin and Co. are still capable of beating any team in the league on any given night.

Washington has won two games in a row, three of the last four overall and seven of the last eight on home ice. The Caps now head to Toronto for a Saturday showdown with the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1- Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

The Caps’ captain had some good chances early but passed them up. Then, late in the first period, he called his own number. On a 3-on-2 rush, Nicklas Backstrom moved the puck to Tom Wilson on the ight wing, and Wilson fired a perfectly-placed setup to Ovechkin, who drilled a one-timer past Andrei Vasilevskiy. The goal was Ovechkin’s second in two games and moved him into a tie with Mike Bossy for 21st on the all-time goals list (573). Next up is Mark Recchi at 577 and Jari Kurri at 601.

2-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals

After a rough start—he allowed a leaky goal just 82 seconds into the game—the Caps’ backup rebounded and had an excellent game. A bunch of big stops in the second period, highlighted by a point blank save on Ondrej Palat, likely was the difference for the home team. The victory was Grubauer’s first in seven starts this season. Grubauer (25 saves) is now 4-0-1 all-time against the Bolts.

3-Jay Beagle

The fourth line center finished with a goal, a primary assist and a dominant percentage in the faceoff circle. Beagle’s goal was scored, backhanded, into an empty net late to clinch the win. The assist came on a shot that kicked off of Vasilevskiy’s pads right out to Devante Smith Pelly, who buried the rebound for a 2-1 lead. Beagle also won 13 of his 17 draws (82-percent). With a pair of points, Beagle now has 101 career points.  

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Barry Trotz explains why Philipp Grubauer will get the start vs. the NHL-best Bolts

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Barry Trotz explains why Philipp Grubauer will get the start vs. the NHL-best Bolts

Coach Barry Trotz did not make any changes to his forward combos or defensive pairs of ahead of Friday’s showdown with the NHL-best Lightning.

He did, however, make a significant change elsewhere: Philipp Grubauer will get the nod against the Bolts as the Caps begin a tough back-to-back set that wraps up Saturday night in Toronto.

It’ll be Grubauer’s second start on home ice this season.

“Just to change a little bit of the order there,” Trotz explained. “Grubi has worked hard. It gives him an opportunity at home.”

HOW TO WATCH CAPS-LIGHTNING

Grubauer, who turns 26 on Saturday and has family in town, is still searching for his first win of the season. He’s 0-5-1 with a 3.86 goals against average and a .876 save percentage. In fairness, though, he’s drawn some tough assignments. In fact, four of his six starts have been the backend of a back-to-back.

“More than anything,” Trotz added, “he just deserved it.”

There’s also this: Grubauer is 3-0-1 vs. the Lightning in his career, with a .923 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.

Asked how much matchups factor into goaltending decisions, Trotz said: “A little bit but not really. I wanted to give him a home start, so why not now?”

With Grubauer set to face Nikita Kucherov and Co., Braden Holtby figures to get the Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW A PENALTY KILL DECIDED A GAME THAT WAS ALL ABOUT OFFENSE