2015-16 Washington Capitals Top 10 Prospects

2015-16 Washington Capitals Top 10 Prospects

Washington Capitals

A look at the Washington Capitals top 10 prospects heading into the 2015-16 season.

With the Capitals having a decade of the Alex Ovechkin era behind them, and some regular seasons of success, they have done a fine job avoiding the temptation of trading high picks for rental players trying to load up for a championship run. Perhaps that has been a mistake seeing as they have failed to come within striking distance of a championship with the strongest player the franchise has ever seen.

In the past two years under GM Brian McaLellan the draft results have been criticized. With ten picks from the last two drafts, the only player who stands out is Jakub Vrana and the decision to draft a goalie with the first pick from 2015 did not help change the criticism.

1. Madison Bowey: Defence – 6’1” / 195 lbs
Drafted: 53rd overall in the second round of the 2013 draft by Washington

Bowey is poised to be the next great defenceman churned out from the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Bowey followed up his breakout 60 point season in his draft year with another 60 point season, but achieved that total in 14 fewer games. Bowey was named to Team Canada and was instrumental in helping Canada win Gold at the WJC on home soil. Bowey then helped lead the Rockets to a WHL Championship scoring 19 points in 19 games and to the Memorial Cup finals where they lost in OT to the Oshawa Generals. Bowey has completed his junior career and has started his pro career with Hershey in the AHL. He will need a season or two to make the adjustment, but his two-way play and shot blocking prowess should see him as a middle pairing at least when he arrives.

Scouting Report:

Bowey’s game is defined by his great skating ability. His mobility is top notch, as he has very good top end speed, and acceleration; both in his forward and backwards skating. He has great pivots, excellent agility and very good edgework which allows him to cover a ton of ground out there. This skating ability allows Bowey to keep the play in front of him, as well to recover when he makes a mistake. – Last Word on Sports

2. Jakub Vrana: Left/Right Wing – 5’11” / 185 lbs
Drafted: 13th overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Washington

After being drafted in the first round by the Caps, Vrana returned for another season in the SHL. Playing pro hockey in Sweden in their top men’s league and had a successful 24 point season in 44 games. Upon completion of that season, he played the final three games of the AHL season in Hershey, collecting five assists. He scored another six points in ten playoff games for Hershey as well. Vrana has started the season in the AHL and had two points in his first game. Vrana could be an injury call up during the season if he can contribute offensively and consistently at the AHL. His offensive upside is significant.

Scouting Report:

Vrana has a fantastic wrist shot with a plus plus release. He is also skilled at finding gaps in coverage from which to strike. After an awesome start to his North American career, with five assists in three games, he will try to repeat the performance in a full season. Anything close will see him unveiled in the U.S. Capital before too long. He has more upside than anyone in the system. – Hockey Prospectus

3. Stanislav Galiev: Right Wing – 6’1” / 187 lbs
Drafted: 86th overall in the third round of the 2010 draft by Washington

Drafted back in 2010, Galiev has been struggling with injuries and time in the ECHL, but a breakout (and healthy) season in the AHL saw Galiev score 25 goals and 45 points in 67 games. He also made his NHL debut playing in 2 games and scored his first career goal. Galiev has stuck with the Caps to start the season, but was a scratch for the first game. Injuries have opened the door for him and he going to challenge to remain for the entire season.

Scouting Report:

Innovative forward with soft hands .. not overly big or powerful but wiry and strong for his size .. talented, agile skater with quick, resourceful feet .. moves well laterally, transitions instantly – has an awkward hitch in crossovers before flowing into a long, comfortable stride .. slippery, squirmy 1-on-1 – thanks to an elastic body and a unique ability to make skilled plays while twisting and pivoting in tight spaces .. generates serious wang on a hard, tricky wristshot that handcuffs goalies .. takes hits to make plays – finishes the odd check with conviction – but is generally easy to play against .. responsible defensively – but in need of better checking postures and routes – tends to roam from coverage lanes. – McKeens Hockey

4. Riley Barber: Right Wing – 6’0” / 194 lbs
Drafted: 167th overall in the sixth round of the 2012 draft by Washington

A late round draft gem, Barber has completed three successful seasons of college hockey in Miami, highlighted by two appearances with Team USA at the WJC where he had a combined 12 points in 12 games. Barber is starting his pro career this year in the AHL, but could push for a NHL job by seasons end. He needs to add some strength. But he is a versatile player who should be effective on a variety of lines and roles. He has offensive upside, leadership qualities, sound two-way play and has an aggressive streak in his game. Currently he projects as a third line energy player, but has top-six potential as well.

Scouting Report:

Barber is an outstanding two way player with great instincts and hockey sense at both ends of the ice. He is very good on the cycle game, protecting the puck extremely well with strong balance, and being very hard to knock of the puck. He wins board battles despite his size and can really work the puck down low. He also is willing to get to the front of the net and battle for position for tip ins, rebounds and converting a pass from a teammate. Barber has good vision and can find open teammates in front of the net when he is cycling. Barber is a good skater, who has very good top end speed and acceleration, and also the strength and balance to fight through checks and get to the front of the net. – Last Word on Sports

5. Ilya Samsonov: Goalie – 6’3” /200 lbs
Drafted: 22nd overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Washington

A strong draft year pushed Samsonov up the draft rankings all the way into the first round. Drafting goalies in the first round is no longer en vogue in the NHL, so it’s a risky move. Samsonov joins other goalie prospects Philip Grubauer and Vitek Vanecek in the Caps system to form one of the strongest in their position. Samsonov is under contract in the KHL for three more years so the Caps will need to be patient, and with Braden Holtby established as the incumbent with a new contract, that won’t be a problem.

Scouting Report:

Combines essential elements of size and athletic ability to be imposing in the net and make scoring difficult. He is very aware and reads the play well and is quick to close down the net. An ultra competitor who never gives up on a play. With normal technical refinement, he can become a star. – TSN.ca

6. Jonas Siegenthaler: Defence – 6’3” / 220 lbs
Drafted: 57th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Washington

The big Swiss defender is a hard hitting shut down defender. He was a standout for the Swiss at the WJC with an impressive plus -9 rating. He will never provide much (or any) offence or run a power play as his game is all about defence. He played over 90 games in total last season with games between his club team ZAC in the Swiss pro league, Champions league games, and International events. This year looks to be the same as he has already played 14 games in four different leagues.

Scouting Report:

Jonas Siegenthaler is a big and wide defensive defenseman out of Switzerland who spent most of his age 17 season playing in Switzerland’s top senior league. His three points in 41 games is indicative of his offensive prowess, although he has the tools to contribute something once he is more accustomed to the speed of the men’s game. He plays a mature, calm game and demonstrates an excellent first pass out of his own zone. The ultimate upside is limited, but Siegenthaler fairly safe as far as prospects go. – Hockey Prospectus

7. Zach Sanford: Left Wing – 6’3” / 185 lbs
Drafted: 61st overall in the second round of the 2013 draft by Washington

After being drafted, Sanford spent one year in the USHL before jumping to the college system last season to play with Boston College. In his freshman year he had 24 points in 38 games. Often big kids who are man sized need a little more time to develop and Sanford looks to be such an example. With three potential years of college remaining, he represents a long term project, but one with intriguing upside as a power forward with offensive upside.

Scouting Report:

A massive young man with some offensive upside, he is still very much a work in progress. He has already demonstrates plus puck protection abilities, as befitting of a player his size, but we should expect his production to increase as his game matures with more time at B.C. – Hockey Prospectus

8. Travis Boyd: Center – 5’10 / 185 lbs
Drafted: 177th overall in the sixth round of the 2011 draft by Washington

Boyd completed four years of college hockey in Minnesota, scoring 41 points in 32 games. He made his pro debut with Hershey at the end of the year, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. Boyd is strong on draws and has two-way potential in a bottom six role. He needs time in the AHL, but could see a NHL cup of coffee if injuries at centre present an opportunity.

Scouting Report:

A playmaking center who shoots right, Boyd is expected to play a similar role that Stephenson played for the Bears last season, with possibly seeing reps on the Bears’ power play. CSN mid-atlantic

9. Philipp Grubauer: Goalie – 6’1” / 184 lbs
Drafted: 112th overall in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by Washington

The Caps had three goalies up with the team for stretches of time last year and Grubauer was one, playing in only one NHL game however. He did see 49 games in the AHL and proved to be ready for the NHL, and is now the backup to Holtby. He will not usurp Holtby, and with Samsonov in the system, his hopes of being a starting goalie in the NHL will likely be with another team.

Scouting Report:

At 6’1 and 185 pounds, Grubauer plays bigger than his size in net. He has a strong ability to fill the net, though he is still susceptible to high shots. His true strength comes in his positioning and his demeanor; he is calm and collected at all times, rarely seeming rattled. Though he is not the most athletic goaltender in the Capitals’ ranks, he shows quick legs and a strong glove hand. Graubauer is not the kind of goaltender who makes the highlight reel, but he can be as solid as they come. – Hockeys Future

10. Chandler Stephenson: Center – 5’11 / 190 lbs
Drafted: 77th overall in the third round of the 2012 draft

The former 89 point player for the Regina Pats of the WHL, played his rookie season in the AHL and struggled to produce offensively – 14 points in 54 games. Things improved in the playoffs when he scored five points in ten games. Undersized for the pro game, he will need to reinvent himself as a player as he likely cannot be the prolific scorer he was in junior. A late cut from the Caps roster in favor of veteran Jay Beagle for the fourth line centre position, he will see top six role in the AHL.

Scouting Report:

Barry Trotz brought up Stephenson’s name when asked about the Caps’ fourth-line depth in the event Nicklas Backstrom is slow to recover from summer hip surgery. After netting a career high 30 goals and 89 points in his fourth and final year with Regina of the WHL, Stephenson was used in a checking role in his first pro season with the Bears and did a lot of little things well under Troy Mann. He’ll need to prove he can handle the bigger bodies of the NHL if he hopes to land a spot on the Caps’ roster. – CSN mid atlantic

Honorable Mention: Chris Brown, Christian Djoos, Vitek Vanecek

Recent Roster Graduations: Andre Burakovsky, Sam Carrick, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Michael Latta, Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt

Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.

Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling

Madison Bowey

Jakub Vrana

Stanislav Galiev

Riley Barber

Ilya Samsonov

Jonas Siegenthaler

Zach Sanford

Travis Boyd

Philipp Grubauer

Chandler Stephenson