The large crowd that showed up for today’s final scrimmage and Fan Fest saw no shortage of goals which mostly came at the expense of the Capitals top young talent.
Unlike the previous two scrimmages, the two best players in Jakub Vrana and Andre Burakovsky did not wow the crowd. The center and right wing duo, which had previously been the two best players in the scrimmages the last two days, had a performance they will likely want to put past them.
Burakovsky and Vrana each scored in today’s final scrimmage but they also gave up a couple goals to the line of Nathan Walker at Left Wing, Chandler Stephenson at Center (occasionally switched out for Brian Pinho) and at Right Wing, Riley Barber.
The two loaded lines matched up very well against each other today, as was not completely the case in the scrimmages on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Previously, Vrana and Burakovsky ran rampant on the scrimmages, completely outplaying the Walker-Stephenson-Barber line. That was not the case today as that aforementioned line lead the way as the White team won today’s scrimmage.
Over the last three days I was able to get a good look at evaluating some of the Capitals future players. Some of them highly impressed me and some were a little disappointing. Not to say they were bad by any means, but, they didn’t perform as well as I would have thought.
Jakub Vrana – The 18 year old very likely won’t be playing in the Capitals system for the next year or two. However, he has an incredible talent ceiling. In the first two days of the scrimmages, Vrana was a complete joy to watch. His enthusiasm while playing was infectious. He scored a few goals throughout the three scrimmages and after scoring each goal, he was excited. He also gave us this gem of a shootout goal. His ability to see the play developing and distribute the puck is also a great asset of his. There is no doubt he will be a great player for the Capitals in a few years time.
Andre Burakovsky – The 19 year old Austrian-Swede is the most NHL ready player that was participating in this weeks Development Camp. I don’t believe he will be playing for the Capitals at the start of the season (although I would love for him to prove me wrong at camp), he will likely see a call up from Hershey by seasons end. He was experimented at Center this week and the experiment went well. Centering Jakub Vrana, he scored a few goals and added a couple of assists over the three days of the scrimmages. I believe he will be more of a play maker while Vrana will be more of a goal scorer.
Christian Djoos (pronounced “Juice”) – The 19 year old Swede’s father, Par Djoos, was an NHL defenseman with the Red Wings and the Rangers. He’s not big at 5’11” and isn’t very strong. However, since I saw him at last years Development Camp, he has come a long way. He’s gotten a little bit stronger and his skating has improved. If he can add some more strength as he gets older, he could see some time in the NHL. Head Coach Barry Trotz listed him as a player that he was most impressed with at the Development Camp.
Nathan Walker-Chandler Stephenson-Riley Barber – This line was the best line in the three scrimmages at Development camp behind the Ubas-Burakovsky-Vrana line. They did about as well as they could have to keep up with the top line in the first two scrimmages. They outplayed the top line in today’s final scrimmage. One of the goals they scored today included a tremendous passing sequence between the three that led to a Riley Barber goal. Those quick, opponent fooling, passes that lead to a goal are the best thing to watch in hockey besides a superstar putting on a dazzling stick handling display (in my opinion of course).
Michal Cajkovsky – He’s big, he’s tough, and he’s aggressive. Cajkovsky also has good speed for a guy that is 6’4″ 229 pounds. He has already seen time with the Reading Royals (the Caps 2013-2014 ECHL affiliate) and the Hershey Bears. I expect the same for him this year. I’m uncertain if he’ll see NHL playing time but I still really like the way he plays.
Travis Boyd – After being a middle of the pack player in last years Development Camp, he did a much better job of making himself standout this time around. He was a leading scorer of the Camp and got at least one goal (possibly two) in today’s scrimmage. He has good speed and at times impressed with some nifty stick handling.
Others: Shane Gersich, Thomas Di Pauli, and Tyler Lewington
Vitek Vanecek – The 18 year old Czech goaltender has an impressive past which includes a silver and a bronze medal representing the Czech Republic in world competitions. However, this week he was sub par. He let in a number of weak goals. He looked strong in Thursdays shootout, only to let up a weak goal at the very beginning of the 2nd period. He has time to improve but the 2014 39th overall pick didn’t live up to his draft calling.
Others that did not impress: Zach Sanford, Madison Bowey (he was shadowing Vrana/Burakovsky), and Garrett Haar.
Here are the highlights of the final scrimmage thanks to Monumental Network.
I wrote a post from day one and two of the scrimmages if you are interested. You may also follow me on twitter @whirschsports. I hope you enjoyed my coverage of the 2014 Washington Capitals Development Camp as much as I did!