Observations From Camp: Day Four

Photo by Chris Gordon, RMNB

As most people continue their summer lives this week, the Capitals continue to host their annual summer development camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.  The Caps hosted the third scrimmage of Camp on Thursday afternoon, and here are some observations from that game – which team Red, headlined by Stanislav Galiev, won handily at a 6-3 final score.

Goaltender Sergei Kostenko, a seventh round pick last month, was electric in his debut.  The Russian had been unable to get his visa situation sorted out and did not report to camp until Wednesday’s practice, so this was his first opportunity to play in a scrimmage environment.  Kostenko made some very acrobatic saves, and the only goal he allowed was on a net mouth scramble that he had no chance to stop.  He also stopped first round pick Filip Forsberg on a penalty shot, and made a flashy glove save immediately after that play.  “His athleticism, he’s very quick, very mobile,” said goalie coach Dave Prior of his impressions of the young Russian.  “Even when the game was going the other way, I didn’t see any change in his game, there was still compete.  He came across as a goalie.”  Again, the Capitals may have found themselves a good European goalie late in the draft.

David Vallorani, who recently graduated from UMass-Lowell, scored another two goals in the scrimmage and has been creating every time he gets the puck in open space.  A college free agent undrafted by any team, Vallorani is probably a long-shot to get a contract offer only because they rarely get handed out.  He certainly has the attention of the coaching staff.  “A point producing guy, very noticeable,” said head coach Adam Oates.

Defenseman Garrett Haar, who was drafted by the Capitals in 2011, played well in the scrimmage.  He made some nice defensive plays, especially along the boards in his own end, and makes good decisions with the puck on the first pass and in the offensive zone, as well.  Haar has three more years of eligibility left at Western Michigan, and, as he was named to the All-Rookie team in the CCHA last year, he seems to be a big part of the Broncos’ plans for the upcoming season.  He is obviously a ways away, but he seems steady enough.

Chandler Stephenson and Riley Barber have both impressed me with their physical play all week, especially in this past scrimmage.  Both are aggressive on the forecheck, using their speed to hunt the puck effectively.  Stephenson, a third round pick this June, and Barber, a sixth rounder, are hard nosed and strong on the puck once they get it and have the potential to be energy guys at the next level.  They are playing for Regina of the WHL and Miami (OH) next year to help further their development and will probably use most, if not all, of their developmental eligibility.

Filip Forsberg is going to be a good one.  He impressed me in the first practice I saw him in on Monday.  He was quiet since then, including below average scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday, as well.  The Swede performed a lot better Thursday, making good passes from his spot on the wing and producing some nice offensive opportunities for his teammates.  He broke free on a breakaway of his own in the first period but was stopped both on the play and on the penalty shot he was awarded following it.  Nevertheless, a much better day from the top ranked European skater in this past year’s draft.

Friday is an early day for the prospects, who have a scrimmage at 9:45 AM.  Development camp concludes with FanFest and another scrimmage Saturday morning at 10 AM.

Harry Hawkings is a college student who covers the Capitals for RtR.  He has been credentialed for the NHL Draft and the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.  Follow him on Twitter here.