For the purpose of this series, a prospect will be defined as an under-25 player in the Capitals system who was not on the team’s roster for the majority of last season. This allows us to focus on guys who many know little about. You will not see Stan Galiev, Philipp Grubauer, or Andre Burakovsky among others in this list.
The Washington Capitals have 28 prospects in their system who match the criteria set above. Below are those ranked 11 through 28.
Vitek Vanecek is the first player out of the top ten. He backstopped the Capitals ECHL affiliate South Carolina Stingrays last season posting a 2.03 GAA and .917 save percentage in 32 regular season games on his way to being selected to the ECHL All-Rookie Team. Vanecek is a goalie without prototypical size that relies on athleticism to standout. He should end up playing the most games for the Hershey Bears this year.
Connor Hobbs is my 12th ranked player. Last year for the Regina Pats of the WHL, Hobbs had 41 points from the backend in 58 regular season games. He added 10 points in 12 games in the playoffs. Hobbs is a puck mover that is not afraid to get dirty evidenced by his 106 PIMs last year. Hobbs will return to Regina next season despite signing an entry-level deal with the Capitals in July. Hobbs’s teammate in Regina and fellow 2015 Caps pick Colby Williams, ranked 20th, will try to get into some games with Hershey this year after signing a minor league contract with the Bears this summer.
At 13 on the list, Providence College’s Brian Pinho has the ability to rise up prospect rankings as Travis Boyd has done in recent years. He possesses a similar makeup to Boyd. He is quick with decent offensive upside but plays well in all areas of the ice. In 38 games with Providence last year, Pinho scored nine times and added 16 assists. He will return to Providence again this coming season looking to build on those stats.
Beck Malenstyn impressed me during the 2016 development camp prospect game. He doesn’t stand out in practice, but he was all over the ice in the game while being able to score a goal. He is not flashy, but he is a heart-and-soul type player.
Speaking of heart and soul type players, Liam O’Brien comes in at 19. He doesn’t have much offensive upside, but as a fourth liner he is fine. He keeps sliding down rankings as he gets less time with Hershey and moves further down the Capitals wing depth chart. It is time to start wondering if he will ever get another chance with the big club.
2016 draftees Garrett Pilon and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby have the greatest chance to rise in next year’s rankings. Jonsson-Fjallby flashed some skill in development camp, but I didn’t get to see enough of his game to rank him any higher than 24th. Pilon has a great shot and if he is given a bigger role for the Kamloops Blazers, he could rise into the teens next year.
Next up, we will enter the top ten.
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