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Prospect Report: Draft steals


Prospect Report: Draft steals

Hershey update: 30-15-3-7, 2nd in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 2-1-0-0

It was another successful week for Hershey who won two out of three games. Since the start of 2016, the Bears have only four regulation losses. Their recent hot streak has a lot to do with the fantastic play of forwards Riley Barber and Nathan Walker.

Barber scored two goals and three assists in Hershey's three games and is currently riding a 10-game point streak (10 goals, 10 assists). He is now in the top 20 in the AHL in points and third among rookies with 41.

Walker meanwhile scored two goals and now has 15 points in 2016.

Obviously it's important for teams to draft well in the first and second rounds, but teams cannot replenish their rosters just on the top picks alone; finding talent in the later rounds is important as well. Barber was a sixth-round pick in 2012 and Walker a third-round pick in 2014. If either player can develop into full-time NHL players, they will be considered steals.

Check out the highlights from Saturday's 3-2 win over Providence in which Barber tallied a goal and an assist and Walker scored the game-winner:

Other than Barber and Walker, watch the hit Connor Carrick laid on Providence's Noel Acciari. Acciari is listed at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds. With one of the major question marks about Carrick's NHL potential being his physicality, it's good to see him try to add a physical edge to his game though he needs to keep that elbow down.

The addition of Scott Gomez has clearly been a major boon for the young players in Hershey. In 16 games with the Bears, he has four goals and 19 assist and the team is playing great with him in the lineup.

Barry Trotz was in attendance for Hershey's game on Sunday and though it was a 6-3 to Providence, the Caps' coach walked away impressed with what he saw.

“Some young guys that are developing – you also see that up front. You’ve got veteran guys like [Chris] Bourque, you’ve got younger guys like Nathan Walker. I felt [Walker] was very effective all night. You’ve got great veteran guys like Zach Sill playing with Liam O’Brien. We’ve got a good combination of veteran players and developing young players.”

Trotz also spoke about the development of the team's young players saying, "We would like to leave some of the young guys here for a couple years to develop and mature the right way. I think we are trying to build a roster systematically, mirroring the systems of Hershey and Washington, even with the way we teach terminology.”

Check out the full story on Trotz's visit to Hershey here from Chocolate Hockey.

It was a very interesting week for defenseman Tyler Lewington who was assigned to South Carolina of the ECHL on Saturday. He tallied three assists in two games with the Stingrays and then was recalled back to Hershey on Tuesday. He came back just in time to record another assist in Hershey's 4-1 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Finally, TSS is unveiling their top 100 NHL prospects and Jakub Vrana came in at No. 62. Vrana is the first Cap to make the list. According to the analysis, "Vrana has a fantastic wrist shot with a plus plus release. He is also skilled at finding gaps in coverage from which to strike."

Be sure to check out the full scouting report.

RELATED: Round table: How will Caps get under NHL salary cap?

Other prospect notes:

A fun story this week out of Regina as Connor Hobbs had a four-point night on Friday in a 7-5 win over Kootenay. Not only did he score a hat trick, but it also came against his brother, Declan, who plays goalie for Kootenay.

You can watch the highlights of Hobbs' performance here.

What becomes quickly evident is that Hobbs has tremendous offensive instincts. His first two goals came as a result of him stepping up into the offensive play deep in the zone. On the third goal, you can see him setup to shoot, but he stops when he realizes he is open and takes a few steps towards the net before firing the nice wrister to beat his brother short-side.

What you also see, however, is a lot of odd-man rushes for Kootenay where Hobbs is sprinting back trailing the play. While his offensive instincts seem to be on point (18 goals, 18 assists in 47 games), he gets caught too far up at times leading to odd-man breaks.

Hobbs' defensive acumen is something he will have to develop in the ECHL or AHL. If you take a look at Regina's score lines, playing defense seems to be largely optional in the WHL.

Tim McGauley also had a big offensive night for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL with a three-point performance on Friday against Edmonton.

In the ECHL, South Carolina went 4-0 on the week. Caleb Herbert scored three goals while Vitek Vanecek turned aside 60 of 62 shots in the two games he played.

In Sunday's win, Vanecek wore the Golden Goalie jersey as he was named the Golden Goalie for South Carolina back in January.

Here's a closer look at Vitek's @ECHL and @MeiGray Golden Goalie Jersey for today's game! #BrickWallJr #LetsGoRays

A photo posted by South Carolina Stingrays (@scstingrayshockey) on Feb 21, 2016 at 12:05pm PST

Ilya Samsonov, the Caps' first-round pick from the 2015 draft, was interviewed by a member o the Metallurg Magnitogorsk press club about the World Junior Hockey Championships. You can read a translated transcript of the interview here on Nova Caps.

Prospects Thomas DiPauli and Brian Pinho faced off as Notre Dame took on Providence over the weekend in a two-game series. Pinho's Friars got the better of the Irish as Providence won both games and Pinho walked away with two points. DiPauli had several opportunities, but failed to find his way onto the score sheet.

MORE CAPITALS: Report: Kovalchuk threatens KHL team with return to North America

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NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

USA Today Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The home stretch

We are down to the home stretch. Only 10 games remain in the Capitals' regular season. Those 10 games will ultimately decide if the Caps finish in first place in the Metropolitan Division and who they will play in the first round of the playoffs.

Washington currently sits in first place in the division, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. Of those 10 remaining games, only three come against teams currently in playoff position. The most critical of these comes on April 1 when the Caps travel to Pittsburgh in a game that could ultimately decide the division.

The Caps still hold a narrow lead in the standings, but where do they stand in the rankings? See this week's updated NHL Power Rankings here.

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3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia


3 stars of the game: A lethargic loss in Philadelphia

Playing three games in four days takes a toll on even the fittest athletes, and it was their sluggish start that doomed the Capitals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

After being noncomittal about his starting goalie all weekend, Coach Barry Trotz put Philipp Grubauer in net. Grubauer ended up making 29 saves on 34 shots. Offensively, the Caps got goals from Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, and John Carlson. Carlson's third period goal cut the Flyers' lead to two with a little over three minutes to go, but a Jakub Voracek empty-netter a few moments later was the nail in the coffin. 

Here are your three stars from the game: 

1. Travis Boyd had the play of the game for the Capitals. Boyd carried the puck into the Flyer's zone, cut through multiple defenders and fired a slick shot to a streaking Ovechkin, who burried the puck in the back of the net. Check it out: 

Not only was the play nice on its own, but it was Boyd's first NHL point. Not a bad way to get it. 

2. Shayne Gostisbehere​ got the Flyers going with his goal in the first period. The defenseman had one goal on five shots along with being an intimidating force in the defensive zone. After going six weeks without scoring, today's goal was Gostisbehere's second goal in three games. 

3. Wayne Simmonds was the best offensive player on the ice on Sunday, scoring twice - both in the final period. It was the 22nd and 23rd goals of the season for the 29-year-old winger. It was also the first multi-goal game for Simmonds since Opening Night, when he had two against San Jose. 

The Caps hit the ice next on Tuesday, when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Capital One Center.