Stock Watch for Washington Capitals' Top Prospects
For fans of the Washington Capitals, the 2013 World Juniors had to have been difficult to watch at times, as former first-rounder Filip Forsberg turned in one of the best individual performances in recent memory.
And seeing as the man Washington received in exchange for the 2012 No. 11 pick, Martin Erat, continues to be an incredible disappointment, George McPhee will undoubtedly take heat for pulling the trigger on that deal for years to come.
That being said, the Caps still have a slew of top-flight prospects in the pipeline at every position, and given how impressive this franchise has been with developing young talent in recent memory, Washington should be receiving some valuable reinforcements very soon.
With a critical part of the schedule in the books, here's an updated look at how the stocks have moved for Washington's top prospects in recent weeks.
The WJC was a big opportunity for Capitals prospect Riley Barber, as the Miami RedHawks sophomore sniper served as Team USA's captain and looked to earn his second consecutive title at underage hockey's most prestigious international tournament.
At last year's event, Barber was among the best forwards for the U.S., and after a very impressive rookie campaign with Miami of Ohio last season, he's been even better for one of college hockey's best teams in 2013-14.
As a former sixth-rounder, Barber's definitely exceeded expectations, and if he continues to progress, he'll be a steal for the Capitals going forward.
Averaging over a point per game for both Miami and Team USA, Barber appears to be capable of being an impact forward at the next level, but his performance at the World Juniors wasn't anything better than expected.
Stock Watch: Steady
At this point, it may not even be fair to label Philipp Grubauer as a prospect, as fellow youngsters Tom Wilson and Connor Carrick aren't on this list due to their extended stays in Washington this season.
Now 14 games into his first regular action as a goaltender at the NHL level, the German youngster has quickly established himself as one of the game's most intriguing prospects in the crease, and in doing so, he has earned the opportunity to start for the Caps on a regular basis.
Sure, his record isn't the best, as 6-2-5 isn't exactly the stuff of legends, but the most important thing to keep in mind with Grubauer is that he's often been the Caps' best player on nights when the team didn't even deserve a point.
For now, Grubauer will likely be the leading man in Washington's three-man platoon in net, but if he continues to thoroughly outplay Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, he'll be starting for the Caps if and when the team's Round 1 postseason date begins.
Stock Watch: Up
Most Capitals fans were probably fixated on Forsberg's standout showing at the WJC, but the team's most recent first-rounder was almost as impressive as a member of the Swedish silver-medal-winning squad.
In seven games, Andre Burakovsky managed a slick seven points in as many games, and though it's worth noting that all three of his goals came in one game, he was consistently an offensive force for arguably the tournament's most talented team.
Blessed with a fantastic shot and good offensive instincts, Burakovsky showed the hockey world why he's been so dominant with Erie of the OHL this season, as the 18-year-old has a stunning 53 points in 34 games thus far.
And given that Burakovsky's in just his first season plying his trade in North America, the early returns on the young winger are definitely better than expected.
Stock Watch: Slightly up
Another member of the Swedish team at the WJC, rearguard Christian Djoos looked comfortable playing the role of power-play quarterback, and he definitely put forth a performance that should bolster his reputation within the Capitals management.
Djoos, a Round 7 pick in 2012, wasn't viewed as an overly offensive-minded prospect, but after scoring two goals and three points with Sweden, it's clear that the 19-year-old has the potential to eventually serve as a two-way defender at the NHL level at some point down the road.
No, he's not quite quick enough to do it today, but if he continues to develop with Brynas (the same club that produced Nicklas Backstrom), he'll challenge for a spot on the Capitals blue line within the next couple of seasons.
Stock Watch: Up