While the Capitals’ veterans continue to trickle into Kettler Capitals Iceplex – Jay Beagle was the latest arrival on Friday, with Alex Ovechkin due to join the troops early next week – the Caps’ youngsters are unpacking their equipment in Estero, Fla, for the start of a four-day, four-team rookie camp.
Twenty-three players are expected to participate in the round-robin tournament, which will feature three games, one each against the host Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators, from Saturday through Tuesday.
Caps assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said the rookie tournament gives the Caps a chance to see their prospects in extended game action, something they were unable to do in previous training camps, when they arranged just one rookie game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“As a player I would like to have an opportunity to at least play a couple games or more to show my stuff,” Mahoney said. “If you’re a center you might have the puck a lot, but you could be a winger and maybe not get as many opportunities in one game compared to another game.
“As a goaltender you may have a period that was not your best period and you’d like to be able to come back and have a better game the next day or the day after.
“It gives us more of an opportunity to evaluate and I think it gives the players an opportunity, if they haven’t had their best game, to redeem themselves.”
Forwards Jakub Vrana, Chandler Stephenson and Riley Barber, defensemen Madison Bowey, Jonas Siegenthaler, Christian Djoos and Tyler Lewington, and goaltender Vitek Vanecek highlight the list of Capitals’ prospects who will play in the tournament (projected rosters and schedule below).
“Something like this, not everyone can experience,” said Siegenthaler, an 18-year-old-old defenseman taken by the Caps with the 57th pick of the 2015 NHL draft. “I want to enjoy it and take as many things as possible.
“For me it will be a learning process. I must be 10 days fully prepared and focused - it is not a holiday camp.”
Following the camp, which ends on Tuesday, Siegenthaler is expected to return to Washington and participate in a few days of training camp before returning to Switzerland, where his season with Zurich began on Wednesday.
It will be interesting to see which Capitals prospects will be paired together for the tournament. Here are some possible line combinations and defense pairings:
Nathan Walker – Chandler Stephenson – Jakub Vrana
Liam O’Brien –Travis Boyd – Riley Barber
Tim McGauley – Caleb Herbert – Kevin Elgestal
Derek Deblois – Trevor Cox – Miles Koules
Jonas Siegenthaler – Madison Bowey
Christian Djoos – Tyler Lewington
Connor Hobbs – Dan Gibb
Vitek Vanecek – Taran Kozun
Look for this tournament to come to Kettler within the next two or three years. Here is the Caps’ schedule for the tournament.
Saturday, 3 p.m.: Capitals vs. Panthers
Sunday, 7 p.m.: Capitals vs. Lightning
Tuesday, 10 a.m.: Capitals vs. Predators