One of the bigger surprises leading into the opening game against the Chicago Blackhawks was the three rookies that made the opening night roster.
Many people expected Tom Wilson to make the team. The additions of Michael Latta and the surprise of the preseason, Connor Carrick, were not expected.
After two games, I think it is safe to say that the kids can play and have the potential to all be really good.
That is not to say it has all been good. Not at all actually. But there is some real potential there for all three of these young men.
Latta played a little over six minutes against the Blackhawks on opening night. He did not make anything happen, but he did not make any mistakes either. He did not play against Calgary, but I expect we will see him back on the ice soon as he is a very scrappy and energetic player.
Wilson has played about six minutes in each of the games against Chicago and Calgary. He has yet to score a goal—but he sure made his presence felt against the Flames.
Just after Jack Hillen suffered a serious knee injury, Wilson came to the defense of his fallen teammate and got into a fight with Lance Bouma. The fight ended with Wilson on top of Bouma and, in my biased opinion, I think Wilson got the better of the exchange.
What you have to love about Wilson is how you can already see him emerging as the enforcer the Caps will need now that Matt Hendricks is in Nashville. John Erskine is good at this role too, but Wilson has the size and potential to really excel as part of the fourth line—or at least until he discovers his scoring touch and gets moved up to the third line.
Then there is Carrick.
Carrick's first game against Chicago was a rough one. There is no nice way to put it. He logged just shy of 11 minutes of ice time and had a minus-two rating. He and Erskine were burned pretty badly on the game-tying goal by Brandon Saad.
Against Calgary though, the 19-year-old really stepped up his game, especially after Hillen went down. Carrick would end up logging over 17 minutes of ice time in just his second game. He ended up with an even rating for the night.
And along the way, he scored his first NHL goal, beating Karri Ramo with some moves that I am sure made Alex Ovechkin smile a bit. Carrick also had four shots and two hits for the game. That's not a bad outing at all for the rookie.
With Hillen now gone for at least a few months, Carrick's role on the blue line is likely going to increase. The kid will have to grow up fast, as will all of the Caps' rookies.
So far, they all seem up to the task.