Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Connor Carrick is a prospect to keep an eye on.
Even though training camp does not begin until Sept. 12, the Caps rookie camp began several days ago on Sept. 4.
On Sept. 9, the Caps rookies will play the Philadelphia Flyers' rookies.
By the time that exhibition is done, much will be known about the Caps prospects and whether there is a place for any of them on the starting roster.
The one player who will probably get the longest look will be Tom Wilson. Wilson, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, played in three games against the New York Rangers in the playoffs last season and was rather impressive.
He now wants to earn a permanent role in D.C., and he may very well get that opportunity. At 6'4", 215 pounds, Wilson is a beast, and showed enormous potential in his limited action against the Rangers this past spring.
From a pure skill set, Wilson has many things going for him. He has size, and he knows how to use it. He plays a punishing and physical game. He also knows how to get under the skin of the opposition and can be a bit of an agitator.
If Wilson can be impressive in rookie camp and through training camp, it will be very difficult for the Caps to deny him a roster spot.
But there are other Caps rookies who are also grabbing the attention of the Caps coaching staff.
One of those players is Connor Carrick, a defenseman selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL draft by the Caps.
Carrick has made steady progress the past season and a half, progress that has been noticed by Caps head coach, Adam Oates. As Oates told Katie Carrera of The Washington Post recently:
He’s one guy that has definitely upgraded, changed and it looks like he’s become more than just a junior player to me. I’ve never been a guy that ever watched junior. It’s been 30 years since I was involved in junior; I don’t really know what to look for, I’m not exposed to it. I’m used to the NHL, certain size, speed, talent level, and he looks like he’s become more of a man, I guess you could say. He looks more ready to play at our level.
Carrick will spend this coming season in the OHL with the Plymouth Whalers. But he has great two-way potential—he led all Whalers defenders with 12 goals last season—and looks like he is turning into a true leader.
If he continues to progress, could he possibly get called up late in the season as Wilson was?
There is also Andre Burakovsky, the first-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals in the 2013 NHL draft, selected No. 23 overall.
Burakovsky will be spending this season with the Erie Otters of the OHL. He is a natural goal scorer and the type of player who commands the puck and wants the puck on his stick. He is a very strong skater and is intelligent as far as his on-ice game is concerned.
It will be interesting to see how he progresses and if he will get any sort of playing time with the veterans before reporting to Erie.
Another defender who might warrant a second or third look from the Caps coaching staff will be Nate Schmidt. Schmidt, a 6'0", 195-pound defenseman, spent this past season with the University of Minnesota and was signed to a two-year, entry level contract by the Caps back in April.
He turned heads at the Caps' recent development camp, and now more is expected of him at rookie camp and possibly beyond. Schmidt will be playing in Hershey this season, but if the Caps defensive corps run into any injury issues, it is conceivable that he could end up with the main club before the season ends.
While Wilson is probably the only Caps rookie with a legitimate chance at making the roster for opening night, there are several prospects who can permanently wedge themselves into the minds of the Caps coaching staff with a strong rookie camp and training camp.