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The Washington Capitals‘ Rookie Camp concluded yesterday with a 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers’ rookie team in an exhibition game held in Voorhees, N.J. By all accounts, the more skilled Caps squad out-skated the Flyers but was manhandled physically and had a tough time killing penalties (four of the Flyers goals were on the power play). Which is a bit of a disappointment (especially for those who made the drive to watch the game in person)—-one would think that the Caps’ prospects would be ready to compete with players of their own age vying for positions with an organization known for its rough-and-tumble brand of hockey—-but, hey, at least center Nicklas Backstrom scored a goal.
The prospects’ performance throughout camp and during the scrimmage, however, seems to have pleased General Manager George McPhee and coach Glen Hanlon: Tarik El-Bashir mentions on his blog on WashingtonPost.com that he was told only four of the rookies—Maxime Lacroix, Brett Leffler, Luke Lynes, and Justin Taylor—of the 30 or so participating in the camp have been cut so far. In previous statements regarding this year’s already crowded training camp (which begins tomorrow morning), McPhee had hinted that only a handful of rookies would actually be invited.
So, either McPhee has a lot of cuts to make this evening, or the rookies already expected to be invited to camp (Backstrom, right wing Francois Bouchard, and defenseman Karl Alzner) will be bringing a bunch of their friends. Of course, Backstrom is pretty much expected to step right in as the team’s second-line center while Alzner is expected to step right back to juniors; Bouchard, on the other hand, could be a dark horse candidate to make the team—especially with highly touted prospect Eric Fehr still suffering from a lingering injury that will keep him from attending training camp and competing for the second-line right-wing position most Caps fans had hoped he would have earned by now.
I’ll be hitting up training camp this weekend and, hopefully, a few more times before the regular season starts, so I’ll let you know who’s there, who’s performing well, and who’s underperforming their way out of a spot with the team.