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Development Camp players to watch: Who will emerge as the next Capitals star?

Development Camp players to watch: Who will emerge as the next Capitals star?

This year’s development camp for the Capitals will not include some of the bigger-name prospects such as Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey or Christian Djoos. There is only so much the team can learn from players competing against other prospects making multiple return trips unnecessary.

The storylines for those players will play out in Caps' training camp in September and October. But, this camp still provides plenty of players for fans to keep an eye on.

Shane Gersich, F

Gersich enjoyed a breakout sophomore season at North Dakota last year with 21 goals and 37 points in 40 games. He was in the conversation for the Hobey Baker Award for the top college player in the nation through the first half of the season and highlighted his skills with an overtime goal off an incredible spin move. As a fifth-round pick, not much was expected of Gersich, but perhaps he showed last season that there is more untapped potential in him than once thought. Was last season an anomaly or evidence that the team may have something here?

RELATED: Four 2017 draftees among prospects attending development camp

Jonas Siegenthaler, D

The Swiss defenseman is one of the more highly touted prospects in the entire organization. He always seems to dazzle in international play, including the 2017 World Junior Championship, but his play has been spotty whenever he has comes to North America. Whether he can adjust to the North American game may be the biggest question facing his NHL potential. Siegenthaler dealt with a family issue in Washington's training camp last season which seemed to affect his play. The team will no doubt feel better about his NHL future if he can shake that off and show what he can do on this side of the pond this week.

Connor Hobbs, D

Hobbs turned a lot of heads last season with the performance he put on in the WHL. He tallied 31 goals and 85 points in 67 games as a defenseman. That’s an incredible rate of production. He can utilize both his booming slap shot and sneaky wrist shot from the blue line to score or set-up the offense. His defensive acumen needs some work, but he has clearly and quickly established himself as a high-potential player.

Lucas Johansen, D

The Caps’ first-round pick from last season, the team remains very high on Johansen and is also in serious need of some help on the blue line. Barring a miraculous performance at training camp, Johansen will likely not going make it to the NHL to start this season, but development camp should give us a glimpse of whether he has surpassed the talent of the young prospects and if he could be ready to make his NHL debut sooner rather than later.

Tobias Geisser, D

Do not underestimate the damage a lost draft can cause. Washington had only four picks in this year's draft which concluded on Saturday. The first player the team took was Geisser in the fourth round with the 120th overall pick. Just to put that in perspective, in 2012 the Caps made five selections before 120. The Caps need value to emerge somewhere from the four players they drafted and Geisser seems the most likely. He has great mobility for his size and is good on the transition which should translate well in today’s NHL. How he performs against fellow NHL hopefuls this week will show the team a lot about his potential.

CSN will be your source for the latest development camp coverage as our reporters and cameras will be on hand all week to report on the action. Be sure to check out our development camp show on CSN on July 20 as we recap all the action and give our insights into what the future may hold for the team's prospects!

MORE CAPITALS: Caps lineup projection: How do the Caps replace Schmidt?

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The Caps' Cup-winning roster is a lesson in building through the draft

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The Caps' Cup-winning roster is a lesson in building through the draft

Every year, the Stanley Cup-winning team shows the importance of building through the draft. This year, that team is the Washington Capitals.

With the NHL Draft starting on Friday, let’s break down the Capitals roster from the playoffs to see just how it was put together.

Acquired by the draft: Nicklas Backstrom, Madison Bowey, Travis Boy, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Shane Gersich, Philipp Grubauer, Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Nathan Walker, Tom Wilson

Acquired as a free agent: Jay Beagle, Alex Chiasson, Brett Connolly, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Devante Smith-Pelly

Acquired by trade: Lars Eller, Jakub Jerabek, Michal Kempny, T.J. Oshie

The first thing to note is that the vast majority of Washington’s roster is made up of draft picks. Specifically, the majority of the Caps’ top six on offense, three of its top six defensemen and both goalies were drafted by the team.

Of the free agent signings, only two were big money players in Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. In 2014, defense was a major question mark for the Caps and Brian MacLellan made a splash as the new general manager by signing both blue liners to big deals. The majority of the signings, however, are cheap, low risk and high reward players.

Finally, the trades include players who filled obvious needs. The Caps needed Oshie to shore up the top six, Eller was brought in to be the third line center, Kempny stepped in as a top-four defenseman and Jerabek was brought in for defensive depth.

So what does this show us?

First, the draft is absolutely critical to building a team’s core. True superstar players are hard to come by. Once a team gets one, they do everything they can to keep them. The draft is a team's first opportunity to acquire a certain player and, if they have superstar potential, sign them long-term. John Tavares this season looks headed to free agency and the buzz around him stems from the fact that he is very much the exception, not the rule. The base of the Caps’ Stanley Cup team was built by drafting star players like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Carlson, Holtby, etc.

This also shows the importance of the draft for depth. In the salary cap era, teams need to find enough cap room for their stars and their depth players. Having young players is absolutely critical because their low cap hit allows for the team to sign the expensive stars and make the important addition in free agency  or by trade. This is a formula that only works if those young players are productive as well.

Players like Vrana and Burakovsky, for example, played big roles in the playoff run, but also carried low cap hits.

So the Caps built a core through the draft and filled key roles with trades and mostly cheap free agent signings.

There is no formula for how to win a Stanley Cup, if there was everyone would do it, but this is about as close as you can come to one. A team has to draft very well and then build around those draft picks to be successful. You cannot hope to build simply through trades and free agency because of the cost. Trades always require sending an asset the other way and very often that asset turns out to be prospects or draft picks. Free agency, meanwhile, requires team overpay for top targets leading to serious cap trouble down the line.

There are always trades and free agent signings that prove to be important, but those are only pieces to a much large puzzle. To win a Stanley Cup, you have to build through the draft.

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John Carlson once again an All-Star snub

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John Carlson once again an All-Star snub

The Capitals' Stanley Cup run may be even more remarkable than we thought considering there were zero all-stars on Washington's roster apparently.

As part of Wednesday's NHL Awards, the First and Second-Team All-Star rosters were released and not a single Capital made either team.

Here is a look at both teams:

In the interest of full disclosure, the All-Star Teams are voted on by members of the Pro Hockey Writers Association of which I am a member. I did not, however, have a vote for the All-Star rosters.

The first thought most Caps fans will have when looking at these teams is what about Alex Ovechkin?

I'm actually OK with Taylor Hall and Claude Giroux getting the nods at left wing.

Hall won the Hart Trophy for what he was able to accomplish in New Jersey in leading a team that looked like a trash heap before the season to a playoff berth. Compare the Devils' roster to the Caps' and there's no question Hall had a lot less to work with than Ovechkin and tallied 93 points as compared to Ovechkin's 87. Giroux finished second in the NHL with 102 points, one of only three players this season to finish in the triple digits. He very narrowly beat out Ovechkin for Second Team honors.

It was a coin flip and Ovechkin lost. That's not what Caps fans should be crying foul over. The fact that John Carlson was not among the four defensive all-stars is a far more egregious omission for which there is no excuse.

After inexplicably being excluded from the NHL All-Star Game in January, Carlson was snubbed once again as he came in fifth in the voting.

Just what does Carlson have to do to get some recognition?

No defenseman in the entire NHL had more points than Carlson's 68 this season. That's not just because of increased minutes as Carlson finished 13th among defensemen in ice time per game.

But being a good defenseman is not about the offensive stats.

That's right. Now go ahead and show me which of the four who finished ahead of Carlson was partnered with a rookie for most of the season. I'll wait.

The answer is none of them.

It's very easy now to look at the Capitals as a team that had all the pieces in place and managed to put it all together at the right time to go on a Cup run, but that's not what happened this season. Carlson was very heavily relied upon by the Capitals during the regular season when the blue line was an obvious weakness, especially after an injury forced Matt Niskanen out of the lineup for 14 games. Carlson was averaging nearly 30 minutes per game in Niskanen's absence. Carlson also spent the majority of the season with his primary partner being a rookie in Christian Djoos.

Charlie McAvoy was a rookie too. Does that mean Zdeno Chara should have been named an all-star?

A player like McAvoy is very much the exception, not the rule. Djoos has a bright future ahead of him, but his career is not yet at the same level as a player like McAvoy.

With all due respect to the voters, it seems like not enough attention was paid to what the Capitals asked of Carlson this season. His strong play on both ends of the ice made up for a weak defense that was only bolstered by a late trade for Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks just prior to the trade deadline.

If you looked at Carlson's stats and saw just an offensive specialist who was not strong enough in his own end to warrant an all-star spot, then you were not paying close enough attention to the role he played in Washington this season.

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