Thursday, June 18, 2009

Who Is Left to Play?

Yesterday we examined who was not signed for next year but that only answers part of the equation for the 09-10 Bears. Most of you have probably already figured out which players weren't listed yesterday so this list might not surprise you. But at the bottom I include a section on players that MIGHT make the move to the AHL this season that you may or may not have heard of.

  • Michal Neuvirth
  • Braden Holtby
Both of these netminders are under contract for multiple years (Neuvy for 2, Holtby for 3). Unless Neuvirth makes the Caps out of camp (unlikely in my opinion) this will be the goaltending duo for the next season or two.

  • Patrick McNeill
  • John Carlson
  • Tyler Sloan
  • Sean Collins
  • Joe Finley
  • Josh Godfrey
  • Viktor Dovgan
  • Greg Amadio
Already this looks like a pretty full lineup. The biggest question mark is Carlson. If the Caps have the space he might end up in Washington most of the season. There are a few players mentioned below that you might be able to add to this group.

As you can see there isn't a lot of room for too many more players. Which solidifies my opinion that Pokuluk, Lepisto, and Kronwall have played their final games in Hershey. But it also means good things for Deano and Helmer. Hershey will want some veteran leadership on the blueline and both players obviously provide that. Add to that the fact that Hershey obviously likes to have extra players in case of injury so adding two more isn't out of the question.

  • Keith Aucoin
  • Jay Beagle
  • Andrew Gordon
  • Francois Bouchard
  • Mathieu Perrault
  • Oskar Osala
  • Michael Dubuc
  • Quintin Laing
As far as players from this year that are still under contract that is it. And I think Aucoin is on an one way NHL deal next season which means he probably won't be playing in Hershey again. As for the others the only player that I think has a shot at the NHL next season is Beagle. And that is only if Boyd Gordon and Bourque are not resigned.

One could argue that any of the 3 rookies (Osala, Bouch, Mathieu) could make the jump to the NHL but judging from their (lack of) production in the second half I think they have at least another year of AHL work ahead of them.

Quintin Laing is the first of the free agents to resign with the Caps/Bears but I would not be surprised to see a few more in the next couple weeks.

Prospects to Watch:

Zach Miskovic - D - He spent the past 4 seasons playing NCAA hockey for St. Lawrence University. He signed a 1 year deal back in March so he doesn't have too much time to prove his worth. His offensive numbers improved just about every season and he finished this past season with 16 goals. Not a real big guy at only 6'1" 185 but that doesn't always measure physical play (see Bourque).

Keith Seabrook - D - The younger brother of Blackhawks Brent Seabrook he has spent the past 2 years playing in the WHL for the Calgary Hitmen (including one year with Alzner). He seems to play a similar style as his brother. He had 15 goals and 40 assists this season for the Hitmen so he can product on the blue line. He is also a little thicker then Miskovic at 198lbs. According to he is the #12 prospect in the Caps organization.

Trevor Bruess - C - He has spent the past 3 seasons playing NCAA hockey and creating quite a reputation for himself as a rough player. He was suspended two separate times this season for in game incidents. He was signed in March to a 2 year contract beginning in 09-10. He led his college team in points with 30 during his sophomore year which included 3 short handed goals. To me he seems like a Pinner type player...wouldn't be surprised to see an ECHL start for him.

Jake Hauswirth - C - Hauswirth was a free agent invite to developmental camp last season (like Dubuc) and was quite impressive. In fact he was impressive enough that the Caps offered him a 3 year contract. He is a big body...6'5" 210...who likes to bang in front of the net. He was the top goal scorer in developmental camp last season and then added 28 goals and 24 assists in 58 games in the USHL. Personally I don't think you can have too many big bodies that like to play in front of the goalie.

Joel Broda - C - Broda has spent the past many years playing in the WHL including this past season with Seabrook in Calgary. #14 prospect in the Caps organization he is eligible to turn pro this season but it isn't known if he will. He was drafted last year in the 5th round after scoring 36 goals in 38 games for Moose Jaw. This season he totaled 17 in 28 games but improved his assists by 10.

Dmitri Kugryshev - RW - The #10 prospect in the organization (top player other than Gustafsson not already in Hershey or Washington) is a definite prospect. Played this season in the QMJHL for Quebec and did wonders. He scored 34 goals and added 40 assists in 57 games. Like Broda he isn't a guarantee to turn pro this season but I would be surprised if he isn't in Hershey next season.

Mikhail Yunkov - C - Yunkov is a bit of an unknown. He has been under contract with a KHL team but is supposedly a free agent this summer and intends to come for the developmental camp. He has been compared to Ron Francis in his play and very well could be in Hershey this season. I would be very surprised if he makes the NHL that quickly.

That is most of the prospects in the organization that are eligible to play in the AHL this season. There are a number of NCAA players but I doubt any of them will be making the jump this year.

If you are wondering why I didn't mention Stefan Della-Rovere it is because he is not eligible to play in the AHL this season. He is not old enough as of yet as a player drafted out of the CHL needs to be 20 before the end of the calendar year to play in the AHL.

And as for Anton Gustafsson I would be really surprised if we ever see him in Hershey. He will stay in Sweden until he is ready to play for the Caps.

A couple other names to keep an eye on are Brett Leffler and Justin Taylor. Both players were originally drafted by the Capitals but were not signed before their rights ran out. Now they are re-entered in this season's draft. IF they go undrafted they will be free agents and Washington could conceivably sign both. I wouldn't be surprised to at least see them at the developmental camp in July. Leffler totaled 33 goals and Taylor had 37 in juniors this season.

It is going to be a very interesting and active offseason. On the sidebar you can find links for the Capitals/Bears contract situation as well as important dates this offseason.

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