The Capitals’ first development camp under head coach Barry Trotz wrapped up Saturday, and Washington’s new bench boss was pleased with the results.
“It’s been really good,” Trotz said of the six-day camp, which included 23 Capitals prospects and 44 players overall.
“A couple of things that happen when you bring people together, not only the players but a new staff, is that you get to know each other. I thought I got to see the staff work together... I thought the chemistry and the work ethic of everybody was exceptional and real focused. We actually got a lot done in a short time.”
Since Trotz was hired by the Capitals on Memorial Day, the 17th head coach in franchise history has spoken of the need to implement a culture change around the club. Development camp offered Trotz and his recently assembled staff an early opportunity to set an organizational tone.
“There was a lot more development in this camp than in the past three years,” said defenseman Patrick Koudys (147th overall, 2011 NHL Draft). “[We worked on] more skill stuff on the ice, working on our habits and the details, there’s a lot more that goes into it that we haven’t really touched on in years past. It’s awesome, I really learned a lot on the ice, off the ice, in the weight room... There was a lot more teaching this year.”
Camp concluded Saturday with the third intrasquad scrimmage in as many days, this one played before a standing room only crowd on Fan Fest Day at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Team White beat Team Red 7-4 in the finale, with right wing Riley Barber netting a hat-trick for the winning side.
Barber (167th overall, 2012 NHL Draft) played primarily with Chandler Stephenson (77th overall, 2012 NHL Draft) and Nathan Walker (89th overall, 2014 NHL Draft) on Team White’s top offensive unit. Walker also scored in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“They’re two great players,” Barber said of Stephenson and Walker. “I loved playing with [Stephenson] and Walks. They’re great guys and we seemed to find each other on the ice.”
While Barber will return to Miami University for his junior season with the RedHawks, Stephenson and Walker will be back at KCI for training camp in September and could be teammates next season with the AHL Hershey Bears.
Andre Burakovsky (23rd overall, 2013 NHL Draft) was among the leaders for Team Red, skating primarily with fellow first-round pick Jakub Vrana (13th overall, 2014 NHL Draft) and 25-year-old free agent invitee Jan Urbas.
“Obviously the guys that stood out [include] Burakovsky,” Trotz said, noting that the left winger centered the No.1 line for Team Red.
“We put him at center ice. It’s an organizational thing. It’s a position where he can use his talents. He sees the ice so well and he’s a very detailed guy. Our first pick Vrana has got great chemistry and a great shot and release. He’s got that goal-scorer’s touch. Chandler Stephenson is another guy that comes to mind, [defenseman Christian] Djoos is a very poised young man who I think plays the game real well.”
Trotz said that he will take the next few weeks to clear out his home in Nashville and move his family up to the D.C. area. He will also be spending time in western Canada, and is hopeful that he will make it to Calgary for a chance to meet the three Capitals who make their offseason homes there- Karl Alzner, Jay Beagle and Mike Green.