Washington’s annual summer development camp came to a conclusion today at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with the team’s annual Fan Fest, featuring the last of the week’s three scrimmages.
Team White prevailed 7-4 over Team Red, with Riley Barber leading the way for his team with a pair of tallies. Shane Gersich, the youngest player in camp this week, netted the game-winner in the third when he scored to break a 4-4 deadlock. Gersich celebrated his 18th birthday here earlier in the week.
Playing on Team White’s top line with Nathan Walker and Chandler Stephenson, Barber and his linemates had a strong showing. Barber scored the game’s first goal in the first minute of the action and Walker added one as well.
“They’re two great players,” says Barber of his linemates. “I loved playing with Stevie and Walks. They’re great guys and we seemed to find each other on the ice. It was working today for sure.”
With Saturday’s win, Team White avenged an 8-3 drubbing at the hands of Team Red in Friday’s scrimmage. Team White skated off with the “Future Caps Cup,” a first-time feature for the team’s summer development camp.
“We definitely didn’t like that loss yesterday and I think we carried it over today,” says Barber. “We talked a lot about it. That’s the difference from these camps from the past couple of years. They made it way more competitive this year when they put a cup on the line. It’s actually a lot more fun to play in the games when you play for something. It was awesome, it was an awesome week.”
This year’s summer development camp is the team’s first under the direction of new head coach Barry Trotz.
“It’s been really good,” says Trotz. “A couple of things happen when you bring people together, not only the players but a new staff, is that you get to know each other. I got to see the staff work together. We worked together and got actually a lot done in between those sections where there was a little bit of a break in the action. I thought the chemistry and the work ethic of everybody was exceptional and real focused.
“It was a really fun week and it went by quick. I think everybody’s excited. There is a lot of good energy in the organization right now.”
Trotz changed the format of this year’s camp a bit and mentioned that more changes will be in store next summer. He liked what he saw of the 44 players who were here this week, 23 of which are members of the Capitals’ organization.
“All the players really impressed,” says Trotz. “One of the things I really liked about the players is that the organization has gone out and identified different types of players. There are some smaller players that are very quick and talented and there are some bigger players, physical players and all that. It’s a good mix.”
Team Red’s top line featured Andre Burakovsky, the team’s top choice (23rd overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft, and Jakub Vrana, the team’s top pick (13th overall) in the 2014 draft. They were extremely impressive in the week’s three scrimmages.
“Obviously the guys that stood out are Burakovsky,” says Trotz. “He’s changed positions; we put him at center ice. It’s an organizational thing and it’s a position where he can use his talents. He sees the ice so well and he’s a very detailed guy.
“Vrana has a great chemistry and a great shot and release and a goal scorer’s touch. Chandler Stephenson is another guy that comes to mind; the young [defenseman Christian] Djoos is a very poised young man who I think plays the game very well. He’s got to get stronger.”
The week also afforded Trotz a chance to meet a few players who are already in the organization, such as defensemen John Carlson and Connor Carrick and goaltender Philipp Grubauer, all of whom stopped by at some point during the week, as did newly signed defenseman Matt Niskanen.
“I got a chance to see Grubauer work with [new goalie coach] Mitch Korn,” notes Trotz. “I really liked what he did with Mitch. I’ve seen goaltenders try to do what Mitch tries to have them do and look like they’ve never played before, stumbling around and all that. He’s got a really good core, he’s really powerful and he’s a good athlete. That’s really encouraging.”
That’s a wrap for this week, and for the 2013-14 season. In two months, the Caps will reconvene for rookie camp and then training camp and opening night is now less than three months away. We’ll have lots more from here and on the Monumental Network in the meantime. Enjoy the summer!