Stock Watch for Washington Capitals' Top Prospects Ahead of 2013-14 Season
The Washington Capitals' season will begin faster than you can say "Please! Save me from baseball and football season!"
Now that hockey is back on your brain, let's talk about the Capitals' top prospects.
Here now is a stock watch for the Washington Capitals' top prospects ahead of the 2013-14 season. This stock watch is based on the Washington Capitals' top 10 prospects by Hockey Prospectus. It includes a value of either "up," "down" or "even" for each prospect's stock, along with a description of each prospect's progress during the last few months and an explanation of how their stock's value.
5. Tom Wilson, RW
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Tom Wilson is only 19 and has played in three NHL games and zero AHL games in his nascent professional career. And yet, he just might make the Washington Capitals' roster for opening night of the 2013-14 regular season.
Head coach Adam Oates spoke to Mike Harris of The Washington Times on September 20 about Wilson's performance so far this preseason and the tough choice he'll have to make about Wilson's future:
He’s playing well. He’s improving. He’s a sponge in terms of learning...It’s a very difficult position, because we don’t want to set him back. At the same time, he’s one of those rare guys where he’s maybe ahead of the curve for his age.
The team's captain also sees something in Wilson, as tweeted by Katie Carrera of The Washington Post:
— Katie Carrera (@kcarrera) September 21, 2013
Even if Tom Wilson doesn't make the Capitals roster, he's certainly made an impression. And that's why his stock is on the rise.
4. Riley Barber, RW
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Riley Barber is more highly rated as a prospect than one might expect, which means he is finally beginning to earn some respect.
His play in recent months has certainly helped. Fedor Fedin of RussianMachineNeverBreaks.com explained on July 18:
But the “Performance Way Over Expectations” award this year goes to Riley Barber, who had a tremendous rookie year at Miami University. Barber was named CCHA Freshman of the Year and played on the top line during the USA’s surprising gold medal win at World Juniors. A player who wasn’t drafted until the sixth round has somehow turned into a dominant college hockey player.
Being underestimated is nothing new to Barber, though: It's happened to him throughout his young pro career. Steve Richmond, the Capitals director of player development, talked to Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post on July 13 about this phenomenon and how it allowed Barber to join the Capitals in the first place:
It was a surprise to get a guy that low that good. Why he fell, I don’t know, but we’re glad he did. We’re not surprised at the year he had. The thing about him is that he keeps getting better. . . . Every game he got better. He’s better now than he was three months ago.
Barber will have to finish his college career before joining the Capitals. In the meantime, the expectations surrounding his success will continue to move upwards, just like his stock value.
3. Madison Bowey, D
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Madison Bowey is one of the Capitals' newest prospects. He was selected by Washington with the 53rd overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NHL entry draft, according to Hockey-Reference.com. The defenseman fell that far despite being rated 32nd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
Bowey spoke to Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com about the draft while at Capitals development camp this summer, saying “Everyone’s hoping to go first round and I didn’t, but it didn’t faze me too much. I knew the team that took me was the team that wanted me and I’m blessed to be a Washington Capital and I want to prove I’m a first-round player.”
Caps general manager George McPhee also told Chuck Gormley at development camp that “Bowey is what we were hoping for. He was a little nervous the first day or two, but he really settled in and played well.”
Bowey will play this season in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets, according to WHL.ca. Chuck Gormley predicted that "after his career at Kelowna Bowey will likely need some seasoning in the AHL before reaching his goal of playing for the Capitals in three or four years."
Since his development has not been slowed down or sped up in any way, Bowey's stock is stable.
2. Andre Burakovsky, LW
Like Madison Bowey, Andre Burakovsky was drafted by the Capitals at the 2013 NHL entry draft. The Austrian-born winger was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the first round, according to Hockey-Reference.com. Burakovsky had been rated as the sixth-best European skater by NHL Central Scouting.
The Capitals thought so highly of him that they signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract on Sept. 4, according to a team press release. However, the Capitals feel that Burakovsky is not quite ready for the NHL or the AHL, despite his participation in the NHL preseason with the Caps. Instead, Burakovsky will be playing this season in the OHL with the Erie Otters, according to OntarioHockeyLeague.com.
George McPhee spoke to Tim Leone of PennLive.com on Sept. 5 about Burakovsky and his development:
He's a really talented young guy. We're really delighted that he's playing in Erie. That's going to be really best for his development. He'll learn the language better, learn the North American game, learn more about Canadian and American culture. He'll just be a more well-rounded player a year down the road.
Perhaps a year down the road, Burakovsky will be ready to play in a different league. Until then, his stock value is holding steady.
1. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C
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On Aug. 31, Igor Kleyner of RussianMachineNeverBreaks.com wrote that "the ongoing drama of Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s impending jump to the NHL is relentless. Informally, we call this drama Fifty Shades of Red, one for each of his forecasted dates to end our second Long National [Capital] Nightmare by putting on the red sweater we thought he’d have been wearing for a couple of years by now."
As if there was not enough drama already, Capitals head coach Adam Oates took a recent visit to Russia to talk to the star of the drama himself. Oates spoke to Katie Carrera of The Washington Post about what he learned from Kuznetsov on the visit:
He’s anxious. He wants to test himself with the best, is what he said, which is a huge compliment. Obviously he’s thought about it, because he’s well taken care of over there and he wants to see what he can do in our hockey.
For now, Kuznetsov is playing "their" hockey with Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL, according to KHL.ru. But make sure you watch for any new developments in this drama, in case Kuznetsov's status changes dramatically. If that occurs, his stock would change with it.