Stefen Soberg playing for Valerenga in Norway (NTB Scanpix)
The Washington Capitals surprised the hockey world by selecting Steffen Soberg with the 117th overall pick in the fourth round of the NHL Draft. At the time, Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times wrote, "The Norwegian goaltender wasn’t listed on NHL Central Scouting’s rankings and it took a lot of people some time to realize who he was."
Soberg attended the Capitals 2011 Development Camp, giving assistant goaltending coach Olie Kolzig a chance to evaluate the youngster. Kolzig told Stephen Whyno that Soberg is "a guy that obviously is gonna need a little more work."
The Capitals' organization was hoping Soberg would get "a little more work" at the team's rookie camp in September 2011, but Soberg skipped the camp as he was struggling with the decision of whether to play in North America. He eventually decided against playing for Swift Current of the CHL, instead returning to his native Norway to play for Manglerud. Eric Detweiler of The Washington Post wrote that Soberg's choice hurt his own development:
That decision ultimately cost Soberg valuable ice time. Because Swift Current had acquired his rights in the CHL Import Draft, the team had the right to block him from playing in Norway. He did not suit up for Manglerud in the country’s top league until after Christmas and played in just 17 games, posting a 3.86 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage.
Soberg was back at Capitals Development Camp in July 2012, but he is in no hurry to play in North America. Since camp ended, Soberg has returned yet again to his home country, this time to play for Valerenga. As of Nov. 29, Soberg is 16-4-0 with a 2.29 goals against average, .919 save percentage and three shutouts in 21 games.
Despite Steffen Soberg's vacillations, his progress is still being watched very closely by the Capitals organization. To support that theory, Soberg is the only goaltending prospect listed on the 2012-13 Washington Capitals Prospect Report. And Hockey's Future writes that "the Capitals organization has done well drafting and developing goaltending prospects under director of goaltending Dave Prior. Still fairly raw in terms of his development, Soberg shows a lot of promise."