Observations From Camp: Day One

Photo by Chris Gordon, RMNB

Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the first day of the team’s annual summer development camp kicked off with two on-ice practice sessions and an intrasquad scrimmage.  As such, I wanted to share with you some of the observations that I had from watching the scrimmage and the sessions.  It is important to know that we are only one day into camp, but they say your first impression is the best one.  “They” say so.

Cameron Schilling is polished.  This is to be expected from a player who has played four years of NCAA hockey and a handful of AHL games under his belt, but I really liked what I saw from him.  He is confident with the puck, good defensively, and a smooth skater.  George McPhee has singled him out as a player who he thinks could contribute next year, too.  “I had a little time in Hershey and hopefully that will allow me to come up and try and compete for a spot, but obviously nothing is guaranteed,” he said.  “You don’t know what’s going to happen from here to camp.  I’m just going to come up here and work as hard as I can to try and make the team.”

Stan Galiev is the most likely player at Camp to make the team out of the gate in 2012-13.  Despite missing almost the entire season in Saint John because of a wrist injury, Galiev had an electric playoffs for the Sea Dogs, helping them go all the way to the Memorial Cup.  He has also gotten better from last season despite his injury.  Stas has good puck skills, a great shot, and is hard to knock off the puck. He skates well and hard and though he still needs to fill out his frame a bit, that will come in time.  “Just to improve my game in every area, be stronger, make smart decisions with the puck, limit mistakes and try to make the team better,” he said. “[Making the Capitals] is my dream and I’ll work hard for it.”  I think he is more likely to be on the team only because the Capitals have so many lower end defensemen that could block Schilling and need a winger badly.

I don’t know what I’m missing, but I am not quite yet sold on Tom Wilson.  Wilson is a big player, standing 6’4” and weighing over 200 pounds, and he plays like it.  The Plymouth Whaler hits everything that moves and throws his body around with a reckless abandon that any NHL team needs; I applaud physical play.  But that’s all I see right now.  Wilson’s stick skills are not that great right now and his offensive totals in Plymouth were not impressive for a first round pick either (27 points).  He is a project, and could be worth it.  He needs a big season in Plymouth.

Filip Forsberg made obvious within his first 40 minutes on ice why he was ranked so high by Central Scouting.  He is big, smooth, skilled and a good skater and at only age 17 is poised for further growth across the board.  Despite not skating in awhile and being admittedly rusty, the Swede looked at home on the wing and made some very impressive passes, especially on the breakout.  He will play one more year in Sweden and add some badly needed muscle before potentially breaking the Washington roster in two years’ time, saying “it depends on how I play.  I just have to keep focusing on the next game and the next practice.”  He impressed me and I look forward to continuing to watch his development.

The National Team Development Program does a great job. Thomas Di Pauli has a relentless motor and never stops moving, even while waiting for drills.  He works hard in the corners and battles for pucks.  Riley Barber has good stick skills and speed and wowed me with an impressive move early in the scrimmage that set up a teammate for a great chance in front.  Connor Carrick is built and also extremely skilled, and needs some polish but lived up to his scouting report.  I like his offensive game and he is able to jump into the play and not get caught out of position on defense often, which is very good.  The Capitals may have tapped a nice mine of talent here.

Development camp continues through Saturday at Kettler and is free and open to the public.

Harry Hawkings is a college student credentialed to cover the Capitals for RtR.  Follow him on Twitter here.