Monday, April 28, 2008

Capitals Prospects Update

Well, the season's over, so it's only natural to look ahead to next year. In that spirit, here's how some of the Capitals' best prospects fared in 2007-08.

Karl Alzner (Defense, Calgary Hitmen, WHL)- The statistics for Alzner were impressive: 36 points in 60 regular season games, a +26 rating in the regular season and six goals in the 16 playoffs games the Hitmen played before being swept out of the playoffs in the WHL's semi-final round. But Alzner's talens go beyond what can represented via statistics: he captained both the WHL's Eastern Conference Hitmen and the gold medal winning Canadian team at the World Juniors. Nothing is set in stone, but there's a very good chance that Alzner could break camp with the Capitals next season.

Francois Bouchard (Right Wing, Hershey Bears, AHL) - Bouchard finished up his QMJHL career with Baie-Comeau Drakkar quite well, finishing eight in the 'Q' with 92 points and sixth in assists with 56, and has since joined the Bears for their playoff run. Although the Capitals are a little unsettled on the right wing after Viktor Kozlov and Chris Clark, the organization is likely going to want Bouchard to get at least one season of professional experience under his belt before they call him up for any extended period of time.

Chris Bourque (Right Wing/Left Wing, Hershey Bears, AHL) - Bourque had a solid season in 2007-08, highlighted by his NHL debut in Atlanta and a four goal night in Hershey. Like Bouchard, Bourque will probably get a look because the Capitals depth chart gets muddled on the wing after the first couple lines. Unlike Bouchard, Bourque has the attitude and experience to be a legitimate option as a depth player for the Capitals. His odds are probably largely dependent on whether or not Sergei Fedorov and Matt Cooke re-sign.

Joe Finley (Defense, North Dakota Fighting Sioux, WCHA) - In between a couple controversial incidents, Finley picked up 15 points (including four goals) for the Fighting Sioux while leading the team with a +24 rating. Finley hasn't said whether or not he plans to forgo his final season at North Dakota and turn pro, but even if he does the towering defenseman is likely to need 50-100 games of NHL experience before he's NHL ready.

Josh Godfrey (Defense, Hershey Bears) - The 2007 second rounder with the big shot lit the lamp 17 times this season for his OHL Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds, and scored 41 goals over his last two years in the league, a span of 128 games. Like Alzner, Godfrey was a member of Canada's gold medal winning team at the World Juniors. It's very unlikely Godfrey would make the Capitals out of camp, but it's possible he could get a callup at some point in 2008-09, if for nothing other than to primarily man the point on the second powerplay unit.

Sami Lepisto (Defense, Hershey Bears, AHL) - Lepisto got his first taste of NHL action this year, playing in seven games for the Capitals. The callup was well deserved: Lepisto had four goals and 41 assists in 55 games for the Bears and his +29 rating led the Bears and was third in the AHL. Lepisto's future depends in large part on Brian Pothier. If Pothier ends up having to retire due to his concussion-related issues, there's a good chance the Capitals will keep Lepisto on their roster to fill his spot. If Pothier is able to come back, Lepisto still stands a very good chance at making the Caps, but it's likely his playing time won't be as significant.

Michal Neuvirth (Goalie, Oshawa General, OHL) - Neuvirth played for three OHL teams this season, compiling an aggregate 17-7-5 record with a 3.11 GAA and a .910 save percentage. Barring some unforeseen set of circumstances, Neuvirth will start next season in either South Carolina (ECHL) or Hershey (AHL).

Mathieu Perreault (Center, Hershey Bears) - Perreault led the QMJHL in points (114) and assists (80) in 2007-08. The 2006 sixth rounder joined the Bears at the end of their playoff run, playing three games without registering a point. With Nicklas Backstrom, Michael Nylander, David Steckel and Boyd Gordon already firmly entrenched in D.C. (along with the fact the Capitals probably want to see Perreault add some bulk to his 166 pound frame), Perreault will likely spend 2008-09 in Hershey.

Sasha Pokulok (Defense, South Carolina Stingrays, ECHL) - Pokulok hasn't progressed the way the Capitals would have liked and he was sent down to South Carolina (ECHL) after 44 games with the Bears. Pokulok performed well in the East Coast League, notching six assists in five regular season games and four assists in ten playoff games. Still, questions remain about Pokulok's durability and mobility. Pokulok will most likely start next year with Hershey.

Keith Seabrook (Defense, Calgary Hitmen, WHL) - Seabrook struggled through a disappointing season for the Hitmen in 2007-08, notching only four goals and 13 assists in 59 games. On the plus side, Seabrook was a +4 on the season, although that number might not be where Caps fans would want to see it either, considering that the regular season Eastern Conference winning Hitmen had 15 player with better ratings.

Semen Varlamov (Goalie, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl , RSL) - Varlamov gained a great deal of valuable experience this past season, playing in 44 games for his Russian team, going 27-15-0 and posting a 2.45 GAA.
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