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Wilson arrives with a bang

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Wilson arrives with a bang

When the Capitals took Tom Wilson with the 16th overall pick in last months NHL entry draft, they were sending a memo to the rest of the league that they were willing to get bigger and meaner.

On his first day of prospects camp Monday, Wilson played as advertised.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound right wing hit just about everything in his path in his first scrimmage at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, leaving potential teammates in his wake with one crushing hit after another.

Thats my type of play, throwing the body, Wilson said. Thats the first thing I think people notice when they watch me play. I dont shy away from the physical contact, for sure.

On his first shift of Mondays scrimmage, Wilson drilled defenseman Christian Djoos along the boards, then took out forward Barry Almeida with another glass-rattling hit.

He tries to hit a lot, Caps coach Adam Oates said. I like to see that in any player.

A native of Toronto, Wilson recorded nine goals and 18 assists in 49 games for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, but it was his 141 penalty minutes and aggressive style that most impressed scouts.

Still, there was great debate over whether Wilson was a legitimate first-round pick or whether hed fall to the second round. The Caps ended that argument when they grabbed him at No. 16. Caps general manager George McPhee said he selected Wilson because of what he perceived to be a lack of nastiness in the playoffs.

When we were in the middle of the playoffs I made a mental note after the games, McPhee said. Remember these games when youre at the draft. Remember how intense they are, how physical they are, how demanding they are and make sure you get someone who wants to play in that kind of stuff.

Wilson still needs some work on his skating, but with another year or two of grooming, the Caps are hoping he can be an impact power forward.

Its going to take a lot of work to get him where we need him but he plays tough, McPhee said.

Wilson said hes looking forward to having a strong prospects camp and learning as much as he can in his first NHL experience.

Im real excited to be here, he said. From what Ive seen already its a great city and a great group of guys. Im just looking to play my game and make an impact that way. Its going to be a competitive week.

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Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

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USA TODAY Sports

Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

The Stanley Cup champion Caps will open their seven-game exhibition schedule on Sept. 16 season against the Bruins at TD Garden, the team announced.  

Washington will face Boston, Carolina and St. Louis twice apiece—once on the road, once at home—and the 

Canadiens one time. The game against the Habs will be played at Videotron Arena in Quebec City.

NBC Sports Washington’s preseason broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the preseason entire slate:

Date                    Opponent           Location                      Time
Sun., Sept. 16      at Boston          TD Garden                  1 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 18    vs. Boston         Capital One Arena     7 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 20  at Montreal      Quebec City, Que.      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21        at Carolina        PNC Arena                  7:30 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 25    at St. Louis        Enterprise Center      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28        vs. Carolina       Capital One Arena    7 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 30      vs. St. Louis      Capital One Arena     3 p.m.

Monday's announcement kicked off a busy week for the Caps.

On Wednesday, Alex Ovechkin will pick up his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Nicklas Backstrom will also be on hand for media interviews; key members of the Cup-winning team are typically in attendance.

On Friday and Saturday in Dallas, Washington will make selections in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th rounds of the 2018 Entry Draft at American Airlines Center. (Their fifth-round pick was dealt to Minnesota in the Tyler Graovac deal.)

Next Monday, many of the organization’s prospects, including this year’s picks, will report to Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the start of development camp. The schedule and roster will be announced this week.

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Who will the Caps' backup goalie be next season?

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Who will the Caps' backup goalie be next season?

Very few teams have the luxury of having a backup goalie they can rely on for an extended period of time while the starter goes through a massive slump. The Capitals had that luxury in 2017-2018 thanks to Philipp Grubauer.

Not every team in the NHL has a dependable starter, let alone backup, so when a backup goalie goes 15-10-3 in a season with a 2.35 GAA and .923 save percentage, that is likely to catch the attention of general managers around the league.

The 2018-19 season will likely be a season of transition for the Capitals behind Braden Holtby. General manager Brian MacLellan expressed his willingness Wednesday to possibly trade backup goalie Philipp Grubauer this offseason. With the season he just had, he could potentially yield the Caps a solid return.

But, if Grubauer is indeed moved, that leaves the question of who will play backup for the Capitals this season?

The initial plan appears to be to promote Pheonix Copley from the AHL.

“Yeah, I think he's capable of it,” MacLellan said when asked if he saw Copley as an NHL backup. “Obviously, he's unproven. I think he's done what he could do at the American League level. Got through probably a little bit of a tough patch this year recovering from an injury, but I think he has potential to be that guy, yes.”

Copley, 26, played last season with the Caps’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears. He had a tough season with a 2.91 GAA and .896 save percentage in 41 games.

As MacLellan alluded, Copley suffered a serious injury at the end of the previous season and it clearly affected his season. The year prior, Copley managed a 2.15 GAA and .931 with Hershey in 16 games. He was considered Washington’s No. 3 goalie this season and was recalled for the playoffs as an emergency backup behind Grubauer.

Copley’s career includes only two NHL games.

There is another internal candidate who some fans may be hoping to see next season. That of course, is 2015 first-round draft pick Ilya Samsonov.

Samsonov, 21, signed an entry-level contract with Washington in May and will make the jump from the KHL to North America next season.

But don’t expect to see Samsonov backing up Holtby to start the NHL season.

Samsonov will be adjusting to the North American game and the smaller North American rink. Because of that, MacLellan believes he will benefit from time in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL.

"I think he needs time in Hershey,” MacLellan said. “We'll start him in Hershey I would anticipate and see how he grows, see how he gets accustomed to the small rink and hopefully get some good coaching, get our guys in that work with him. It'll be up to him. I think he'll adapt fairly quickly given his skill set.”

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