The Capitals will open their annual rookie camp a day earlier than anticipated on Wednesday and most of the focus during the six-day camp at Kettler will center on 19-year-old prospect Tom Wilson.
The Caps are expected to announce their rookie camp roster in the coming days. Until then, here are the five biggest questions heading into rookie camp:
1. Will Tom Wilson make the team?
Based on his development last season, his maturity off the ice and the fearlessness he brings on the ice, it’s hard to imagine Wilson going back for a third season with the OHL Plymouth Whalers. Taken 16th overall in the 2012 draft, Wilson is a right-handed shot best suited for the right wing. With Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer cemented in as the team’s top two right wings, Wilson has a chance to bump Joel Ward from the third line to the fourth. If that happens, look for third-line winger Eric Fehr to switch from right side to the left.
2. Will a candidate emerge at No. 4 defenseman?
Possibly. The Caps are expected to invite 22-year-old prospects Nate Schmidt and Patrick Wey to camp, but the real X-factor will be Dmitry Orlov, another 22-year-old blue liner who missed half of last season with a concussion after playing 60 games with the Caps as a rookie in 2011-12. Orlov skates well, hits hard and has an accurate shot from the blue line and could be the perfect complement to John Carlson. But right now he sits behind John Erskine, Jack Hillen, Steve Oleksy and Tomas Kundratek on the Caps’ defensive depth chart.
3. Will top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov be in attendance?
No. The Caps’ dynamic 21-year-old center has not attended any of the team’s prospects camps in the past two years and has committed to play one more season in the KHL. It is no coincidence that Caps GM George McPhee received assurance from Kuznetsov that he would be coming to the NHL at the end of this season before signing Mikhail Grabovski to a one-year deal worth $3 million. “He’s indicated to us that he’s definitely coming over, so we do see a light at the end of the tunnel, and he indicated that as recently as two weeks ago,” McPhee told NHL.com. “We’re hoping we see him late this season and that he is as good as advertised.”
4. Where will first-round pick Andre Burakovsky play this season?
Probably Erie of the OHL. Taken with the first pick [23rd overall] of the 2013 draft, Burakovsky reportedly agreed to a three-year entry level contract with the Caps last week, but the club has not yet announced the signing. Burakovsky is eligible to play for the AHL Hershey Bears but he’s most likely to begin his North American career with the Erie Otters, where he’d play alongside one of the top prospects for the 2014 draft, Connor McDavid.
5. What’s the daily schedule for rookie camp?
Here you go:
Wednesday, Sept. 4: 4:15 p.m.-5:15 p.m. Practice
Thursday, Sept. 5: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Practice
Friday, Sept. 6: 10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Practice
Saturday, Sept. 7: 10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Practice
Sunday, Sept. 8: 10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m Practice
Monday, Sept. 9: 3 p.m. Rookie Game vs. Philadelphia Flyers