On Saturday, 19 young prospects and free agent invites battled for a chance to impress during Capitals Rookie Camp.
With the Capitals main roster mostly set, there’s only an outside chance that these rookies will make an appearance in the regular-season line-up. But for many, this was the first time fans were able to watch the rookies in action, with Capitals practices re-opening to the public for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Attendees at Saturday’s Rookie Camp included two of the Capitals’ most recent draft picks, defensemen Vincent Iorio (55th overall) and Dru Krebs (176th overall). Center Haakon Hanelt was absent from the practice.
Twenty-year-old Connor McMichael was one of the main draws at the practice. McMichael, who made his NHL debut last season, dazzled in the World Juniors and ended last season as the Hershey Bears’ leading scorer.
McMichael worked over the summer with famed NHL trainer Gary Roberts, in a high-performance training camp alongside NHL stars like Steven Stamkos and Connor McDavid, where he focused on gaining strength. McMichael revealed he had gained five or six pounds of muscle over the offseason.
Defenseman Bobby Nardella, who the Capitals signed to a two-year deal at the start of the summer, was the only player in a navy blue jersey amidst the red and white jerseys.
Nardella, who scored 33 points (7 goals, 26 assists) in 47 games for Djurgardens IF in the SHL last year, said that he was working on his conditioning after recovering from shoulder surgery performed during the offseason.
“I’m kind of taking it day by day. […] It was just a lingering thing that I think happened a few years ago and it kind of flared up in Sweden, I was dealing with it there. I got it looked at again and we decided that surgery was necessary after the season,” Nardella said.
Nardella had planned on going to the Hershey Bears after the SHL season ended, but in light of the timing he decided to have shoulder surgery at the end of the SHL season so he could recover in time for the start of this season.
The Rookie Camp continues through Monday.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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