Beginning today at 3 p.m. and continuing through Tuesday, Capitals prospects and free-agent invitees will be trying to impress the Capitals’ coaching and management staffs in three exhibition games against the Florida Panthers (today), Tampa Bay Lightning (Sunday night) and Nashville Predators (Tuesday morning) at the Lightning’s training center in Estero, Fla.
Some players, like right wing Jakub Vrana, are hoping to perform well enough to earn a shot on the Caps’ season-opening roster on Oct. 10. Others, like Miles Koules, are seeking their first pro contracts.
According to generalfanager.com, the Caps currently have 47 players signed to standard player contracts, three under the NHL maximum of 50. Ten forwards (including Michael Latta), seven defensemen (including Taylor Chorney) and three goaltenders (including Philipp Grubauer) are under one-way, NHL contracts, which means they would need to pass through waivers to be sent to the AHL.
The remaining 27 contracts are two-way deals.
With that in mind, which of the Capitals’ 23 rookie camp invitees have the best chance of landing one of three available pro contracts? Here are a few:
Miles Koules, 21, right wing
The son of movie director and former Lightning part-owner Oren Koules, Miles recorded career highs in goals (27), assists (32) and points (59) in 69 games with the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League last season. A crafty 5-foot-11, 187-pounder, he’ll need to excel in Estero to see NHL preseason action and earn his first pro contract.
Connor Hobbs, 18, defenseman
Taken by the Caps in the fifth round (143rd overall) of the 2015 NHL draft, Hobbs likely will need to prove himself at the junior level before the Caps offer him a contract. A 6-foot, 187-pounder, Hobbs had two goals and 16 assists in 45 games in the WHL last season.
Tim McGauley, 20, center
An undrafted free agent, McGauley tore up the Western League last season with a career-high 42 goals and 105 points in 72 games in his fourth and final season with the Brandon Wheat Kings. The 6-foot, 175-pound center added eight goals and 11 assists in 19 playoff games.
Cole Wilson, 25, defenseman
At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Wilson is big and strong but went undrafted and unsigned following his senior season at the University of British Columbia, where he recorded 13 goals and eight assists in 28 games as a senior.
Keoni Texeira, 18, defenseman
An intriguing prospect born in Fontana, Calif., Texeira is a 6-foot, 208-pound blue liner who put up eight goals, 18 assists, 62 penalty minutes and a plus- 32 rating in 71 games for the Portland Winter Hawks last season.