The Capitals have seen top prospects use the prestigious World Juniors tournament as a quick launching pad to NHL success before.
Defenseman John Carlson is probably the best example in recent years. Forward Marcus Johansson is another. At USA Hockey’s summer evaluation camp, two more of Washington’s most promising youngsters are pushing to make Team USA.
Forward Riley Barber and defenseman Connor Carrick are among the 44 American players fighting for a spot. Tommy DiPauli, a fourth-round pick in 2012 who plays for Notre Dame, was also invited to the camp.
But Barber and Carrick, both 19, are the standouts. During a scrimmage in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Sunday against Team Finland, the two connected for a goal to start the scoring in an eventual 6-5 win. Carrick added an assist and Barber finished with three.
Barber is a virtual lock to make the team for a second year in a row as he builds off an impressive first season at Miami University, where he was one of the NCAA’s top scoring freshmen. A 2012 sixth-round pick, Barber had three goals and three assists at last year’s World Juniors tournament. He was ranked fifth among all Caps prospects in The Hockey News’ prospect guide last spring. That was before the team traded 2012 first-round pick Filip Forsberg, however, who was second.
Carrick, meanwhile, is best known for playing with another of Washington’s 2012 first-round draft picks, Tom Wilson, at OHL Plymouth. But the smooth-skating defenseman was one of the OHL’s top scorers from the blueline last season and was ranked Washington’s sixth-best prospect by The Hockey News. Carrick, chosen 137th overall in the 2012 NHL draft, will return to Plymouth for another season.