2011-2012 Hershey Bears Prospects
I had the opportunity to go to a Hershey Bears game on the ninth of November. I went for two reasons:
- Not going to lie, I really wanted that free pass to Hershey Park.
- I wanted to check out the Bears prospects, namely Dmitri Orlov, Brett Flemming, Braden Holtby, and Tomas Kundratek.
I came away slightly disappointed because Kundratek actually didn’t play in the game. I did get to see him in warm ups though. I’ll give my opinion on Orlov, Evegny Kuznetsov (currently in the KHL), Flemming, and Holtby.
Dmitri Orlov, defenseman
Strengths: Very good on offense. Seems comfortable bringing the puck up. Will be a power play staple with his versatility from the point, although I’d really like to see him be more aggressive with shooting the puck because his slap shot is deadly and accurate. Very good at pressing attacks. His creativity combined with his high skill level is a deadly combination. Very graceful skater, and I rarely say that about defenseman.
Weaknesses: Still needs to develop defensively. His positioning is a little off, but he’s still getting used to the North American game. He’s already made great strides in his positioning, so that’s a good sign. Has the tendency to hang onto the puck longer than he should because of his high skill level. Needs to be more aware of his teammates.
Player He Reminds Me Of: Mike Green. A power play blue line of Green and Orlov could be extremely dangerous for opposing teams.
ETA: I’m actually surprised he’s not up in DC now. I would have called him up to replace Mike Green until he’s healthy. I would guess he is at the very top of defenseman who would come up to replace someone though. He’ll definitely see time in the NHL at some point this year.
Strengths: Has a ton of raw ability. Probably the best skater of all the Capitals prospects. Very comfortable moving with the puck, and passing as well. For a guy his size, he’s very comfortable against the boards. Hard to play off his puck. Creates scoring opportunities, not just for himself, but others as well. Extremely aware on the ice on offense. Hustles every second of the shift.
Weaknesses: A majority of his weaknesses are due to the fact that he’s still adjusting to the North American game. Biggest concern is being consistent on defense and positioning. His positioning on offense is off as well, but he has the raw ability to make up for it. He’s only 19 and he will have to get used to the North American game, so he’ll take a little time to develop. Note: He won’t be in the organization officially until next year. He’s currently in the KHL.
Player He Reminds Me Of: Evgeny Malkin. Great combination of strength, speed, and desire. Will definitely have to bulk up if he wants to keep on playing against the boards in the NHL. Malkin had to go through the same transition though.
ETA: 2013-2014. Has so much raw talent, but not enough to get by in the NHL on talent alone. Seems to be a smart kid so I’ll give him about a year in Hershey.
Strengths: Good all-around game, although he probably won’t be a huge contributor on offense. Hard-nosed player who is deceptively fast and strong. Hits extremely hard for someone his size. Finishes all of his checks. Good awareness on defense. Good at finding the open man. Decent point man on the power play, although clearly not as good as Orlov.
Weaknesses: Flemming cannot realistically be this physical in the NHL without bulking up. He’s around 180 now, if he can get up to 195-205 pounds, that will definitely help. Needs to be more aggressive on offense. Needs to work on his slap shot.
Who He Reminds Me Of: Toronto defenseman Brett Lebda. Very good complementary player, although certainly not an ideal first liner. He’ll fit in more on the second-line.
ETA: 2012-2013 season. Might even start the season with the Capitals depending on his development.
Strengths: Technically sound. Very well conditioned and has proven to be quite durable. Extremely competitive. Pretty good size and build.
Weaknesses: The reason Holtby isn’t in the NHL is because he has trouble with his positioning. Has trouble stopping high shots, as he gets beat in the upper areas more often than he should. Can be very inconsistent at times. He’ll make an amazing save one minute, and let an easy one get by the next.
Who He Reminds Me Of: Ken Dryden. Olaf Kolzig has used that comparison, and I somewhat agree. Dryden could be inconsistent at times, but he had tons of intangibles and would step up his game in close situations. I’ve definitely seen that in Holtby.
ETA: Ideally, next year. He has to be at the top of the list for long-term replacements if either Vokoun or Neuvirth go down though and they need a goalie to start a game.
The future of the Capitals is bright. The Hershey Bears have numerous guys who could fill in short-term for pretty much anyone on the Capitals.