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Caps of tomorrow about to descend on Kettler

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Caps of tomorrow about to descend on Kettler

Capitals fans thirsting for some midsummer hockey will get their wish this week when the Capitals host their annual summer development camp from Tuesday through Saturday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. All on-ice sessions are free and open to the public. 

This is the ninth straight year the camp is being held at Kettler and a total of  36 players have been invited, including top forward prospects Jakub Vrana and Riley Barber, top defensive prospects Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos and goaltending prospect Vitek Vanecek.

The camp will also include three of the four players selected by the Capitals in last weekend’s NHL draft – defensemen Jonas Siegenthaler, Connor Hobbs and Colby Williams. The Caps’ top pick of the 2015 draft, Russian goaltender Ilya Samsonov, is not scheduled to attend.

Two players who attended last summer’s development camp, forwards Andre Burakovsky and Liam O’Brien, played for the Capitals in 2014-15. Burakovsky and O’Brien combined to play in 66 games for the Caps last season and registered 24 points [10 goals, 14 assists] and 33 penalty minutes.

Ten players who attended the 2014 development camp [Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, Michal Cajkovsky, Pheonix Copley, Christian Djoos, Caleb Herbert, Liam O’Brien, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana and Nathan Walker] played for the AHL Hershey Bears in 2014-15 and six players [Michal Cajkovsky, Wade Epp, Garrett Haar, Caleb Herbert, Braden Pimm and Nathan Walker] played for the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays.

Seventeen-year-old defenseman Turner Ottenbreit, a free agent who will turn 18 on Thursday, is the youngest player attending this year’s development camp, while free agent defenseman Dajon Mingo, 25, is the oldest.

The five-day camp will conclude on Saturday with a Fan Fest that will include a scrimmage game between the prospects, an equipment sale, autograph sessions and a free open skate.

Capitals Development Camp Schedule

Tuesday

9 a.m.: Team White on ice

10:45 a.m.: Team Red on ice

4 p.m.: Team White on ice (Capitals rink)

4 p.m.: Team Red on ice (Public rink)

Wednesday

9:30 a.m.: Team White on ice

11:15 a.m.: Team Red on ice

Thursday

9 a.m.: Team White on ice

10:45 a.m.: Team Red on ice

4:15 p.m.: Both teams on ice

Friday

10 a.m.: Team White on ice

11:45 a.m.: Team Red on ice

Saturday (Fan Fest)

10:30 a.m.: Intrasquad scrimmage 

NUMERICAL ROSTER

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate 2014-15 Team Acquired

15 KOULES, Miles RW 5’11” 195 6/25/94 Portland (WHL) Free Agent

18 STEPHENSON, Chandler LW 5’11” 200 4/22/94 Hershey (AHL) Draft ‘12

24 BARBER, Riley RW 5’11” 194 2/7/94 Miami University (NCAA) Draft ‘12

29 DJOOS, Christian D 5’11” 154 8/6/94 Brynas (Sweden) Draft ‘12

30 ASMUNDSON, Keegan G 6’5” 234 8/7/90 Canisius College (NCAA) Free Agent

34 SIEGENTHALER, Jonas D 6’3” 220 5/6/97 Zurich (Swiss) Draft ‘15

36 HOBBS, Connor D 6’2” 191 1/4/97 Regina (WHL) Draft ‘15

38 WILLIAMS, Colby D 6’0” 195 1/26/95 Regina (WHL) Draft ‘15

41 VANECEK, Vitek G 6’1” 180 1/9/96 Benatky (Czech Jr.) Draft ‘14

54 BOYD, Travis C/RW 5’10” 185 9/14/93 Minnesota (NCAA) Draft ‘11

55 BOWEY, Madison D 6’0” 195 4/22/95 Kelowna (WHL) Draft ‘13

57 DAVIDSSON, Jonathan RW 5’11” 180 3/12/97 Djurgarden (Sweden Jr.) Free Agent

59 NELL, Chris G 6’1” 178 9/2/94 Bowling Green (NCAA) Free Agent

62 DIPAULI, Thomas LW 5’10” 183 4/29/94 Notre Dame (NCAA) Draft ‘12

63 GERSICH, Shane C/LW 5’11” 175 7/10/96 Omaha (USHL) Draft ‘14

64 VRANA, Jakub RW 5’11” 185 2/28/96 Linkoping (Sweden) Draft ‘14

68 SPINNER, Steven RW 5’11” 196 12/15/95 Omaha (USHL) Draft ‘14

71 ELGESTAL, Kevin RW 6’1” 176 5/29/96 Frolunda (Sweden Jr.) Draft ‘14

72 HERBERT, Caleb C/RW 5’10” 185 10/12/91 South Carolina (ECHL) Draft ‘10

73 COX, Trevor LW 5’8” 155 8/12/95 Medicine Hat (WHL) Free Agent

75 CARLSSON, Lucas D 6’0” 180 7/5/97 Brynas (Sweden Jr.) Free Agent

78 KASKISUO, Kasimir G 6’3” 200 10/2/93 Minnesota Duluth (NCAA) Free Agent

79 WALKER, Nathan LW 5’10” 185 2/7/94 Hershey (AHL) Draft ‘14

80 PINHO, Brian C/RW 6’0” 173 5/11/95 Providence (NCAA) Draft ‘13

81 RUZICKA, Jan G 6’1” 176 2/23/97 Mlada (Czech Jr.) Free Agent

82 SANFORD, Zach C/LW 6’3” 184 11/9/94 Boston College (NCAA) Draft ‘13

84 PIONK, Neal D 5’11” 173 7/29/95 Sioux City (USHL) Free Agent

85 TEXEIRA, Keoni D 5’11” 208 3/24/97 Portland (WHL) Free Agent

86 OTTENBREIT, Turner D 6’3” 178 7/9/97 Seattle (WHL) Free Agent

87 O’BRIEN, Liam LW 6’0” 205 7/29/94 Hershey (AHL) Free Agent

93 MINGO, Dajon D 5’9” 175 5/7/90 Bowling Green (NCAA) Free Agent

 94 LOHAN, Kevin D 6’6” 220 10/1/93 Michigan (NCAA) Free Agent

95 BASARA, Marcus RW 6’0” 187 2/27/93 University of Alaska (NCAA) Free Agent

96 GIBB, Dan D 6’3” 220 7/27/92 University of Calgary (CIS) Free Agent

97 MURPHY, Cody LW 5’11” 194 4/22/91 Miami University (NCAA) Free Agent

98 LAPPIN, Nick RW 6’1” 175 11/1/92 Brown (NCAA) Free Agent

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Key Caps questions: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing long-term?

Key Caps questions: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing long-term?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Will John Carlson repeat his career year after signing a long-term contract?

Tarik: When a player has a career year and it coincides with the final year of his contract, the reaction from some fans and media is often a sarcastic, ‘Well, of course he did.’

And I’m sure there are some folks who wonder about Carlson’s breakout season and whether there was a connection between the uptick in his production and the potential of an enormous payday.

Indeed, the 28-year-old established highs in goals (15), assists (53), points (68) and ice time (24:47). He was outstanding in the postseason, too, amassing five goals and 15 assists while playing solidly in his own end to help lead the Caps to their first championship.

The financial reward came a couple of weeks later when he signed an eight-year, $64 million contract to remain in Washington.

Which brings us to today’s question.

It’s obviously impossible to say for sure what’s going to happen, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he had another big season. Why? A few reasons:

  • As good as he was, last year wasn’t a total outlier, either. Carlson racked up 55 points (12 goals, 43 assists) in 2014-15, which was tied for fifth best among blue liners that year.
  • He was at his best last season skating with trade deadline addition Michal Kempny. Kempny, of course, also re-upped, agreeing to a four-year extension. So, in theory, Carlson should be able to pick up where he left off.
  • Carlson has credited Todd Reirden with helping him take his game to new heights. Well, Reirden is now the guy in charge of the whole operation. How could that not help?
  • A major reason Carlson puts up so many points is his role on the power play. And that unit, which really hit its stride in the postseason (29.3-percent), returns all five skaters.
  • Carlson has also been pretty durable, which is critical to being productive. In fact, last season he skated in all of the Caps’ games for the sixth time in eight full-time seasons.

So, yeah, it’s all setting up nicely for Carlson to have a strong 2018-19.

To me, the only unknown is whether he’ll have the same hunger and determination now that he’s got long-term security and that previously elusive championship ring.

Again, that’s impossible to predict. But I can tell you this: Over the course of two decades in this business, I’ve covered lots of players who inked life-changing contracts. With a few of them, I had immediate concerns.

I have no such reservations about Carlson's ability to play up to his new deal, particularly in the first several seasons of it.

JJ: There's nothing wrong with a player being motivated by a new deal, but I am always wary when players have career years on the last year of their contract.

The issue is whether or not a player can continue to play at the level they showed when a new contract is no longer a motivating factor. After signing a new deal for eight years and $64 million, Carlson won't have to think about money or contracts for a long time.

When it comes to motivation, a lot of the questions surrounding the Capitals this year will depend on how they react to winning the Cup. Of course everyone wants to repeat, but psychologically will they come into camp more motivated than ever to defend their title or will they be satisfied with finally winning it all?

For Carlson, there are several reasons to be hopeful. Tarik went over a number of those reasons above, but the two biggest for me are Michal Kempny and Todd Reirden.

This season, Carlson will have Kempny as his partner to start, rather than a cycle of practically every left-handed defenseman on the ice depending on the situation. Second, what Mitch Korn is to goalies, Reirden is to defensemen. With him as the head coach, I believe the ceiling for Carlson will only continue to climb.

Let's also go beyond the numbers. Matt Niskanen suffered an injury early last season that forced Carlson into a primary role on both ends of the ice. He was playing nearly 30 minutes a night and, with two rookies on the blue line who Barry Trotz did everything he could to shelter, those were very hard minutes. Yet, Carlson excelled. The offensive upside was always there, but the way he played defensively was a revelation.

While Dmitry Orlov and Niskanen will remain a solid pair for the Caps, I believe Carlson will be the guy heading into the season which will mean more minutes and more responsibility.

Plus, despite what he meant to the team's defense and despite leading all defensemen in points with 68, Carlson was not selected to participate in the All-Star Game, he was not one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy and he was not among the four defensemen named to the end of season All-Star team. His incredible season earned him no recognition at all other than his new contract. A $64 million contract is a heck of a consolation prize, but his season deserved more recognition than that.

You don't often see a player of his caliber enter a season with a chip on his shoulder, but Carlson should have a fairly sizable one.

Other key questions

How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?
Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?
Can Alex Ovechkin still challenge for another Rocket Richard Trophy?
Has Evgeny Kuznetsov made the jump from really good player to superstar?

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Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals re-sign Madison Bowey leaving Tom Wilson the lone remaining RFA

Defenseman Madison Bowey re-signed with the Capitals on Thursday, inking a two-year extension that will carry an average of $1 million.

Bowey carried a cap charge of $703,333 last season.

The 23-year-old appeared in 51 games for the Caps in 2017-18, amassing 12 assists, 24 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus-3.

Bowey also suited up in nine contests for AHL Hershey, though he finished the season as one of the Black Aces during Washington's run to the Stanley Cup.

With Bowey back in the fold, the Caps now have six of seven defenseman from last season’s roster under contract. (Veteran Brooks Orpik remains an unrestricted free agent.)

Bowey had an uneven first year in the NHL—he didn’t play following the late-February addition of Michal Kempny—but the Caps expect that the 6-2, 198-pound right-shot blue liner will become reliable full-time player with more seasoning.

Bowey’s deal leaves Tom Wilson as the Caps' only remaining unsigned restricted free agent. The sides are in discussions on a multi-year extension.

Including Bowey’s extension, the Caps have roughly $7.3 million in salary cap space remaining, according to CapFriendly.

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