By Ben Raby
It may be the middle of August, but dont try telling Washington Capitals prospect Tom Wilson that there isnt any meaningful hockey being played.
The Capitals first-round pick (16th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was one of 56 junior-aged players to take part in the Canada-Russia Hockey Challenge- a four-game series which ended Tuesday in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Wilson played for Team Canada in all four games and was used primarily as the teams fourth line right winger. The 6-foot-3, 205 pound power forward was held pointless in the series and finished with six penalty minutes.
The teams split Games 1 and 2 in Yaroslavl, Russia last week, before splitting Games 3 and 4 in Halifax on Monday and Tuesday. With Canada winning Game 4 to even the series at two games apiece, the teams played a sudden death overtime period to determine the series winner. Toronto native Ryan Strome (New York Islanders, 1st round, 5th overall, 2011) netted the overtime winner to clinch the series for Team Canada.
Soon after the Canadian win, Wilson shared his excitement on Twitter: Wow!! What a game by the boys and series winner by Ryan Strome @strome18. CanadianPride 40 Years.
The 40 years is a reference to the 1972 (eight-game) Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union. This years Canada-Russia Challenge celebrated the 40th anniversary of one of hockeys greatest matchups.
Wilson will soon return to Plymouth, Michigan, for the start of training camp with his Ontario Hockey League club team. The Plymouth Whalers open preseason play Sept. 1 with the regular-season to set to begin three weeks later.
Wilsons participation in the Canada-Russia Challenge also bodes well for his chances of representing Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia from Dec. 26-Jan. 5.
Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.
Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.
This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.
The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?
Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.
That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).
Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.
SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE
Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:
In contention for: Norris
Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.
In contention for: Hart
Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.
Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!