Vrana turning heads at Caps development camp

Vrana turning heads at Caps development camp
July 11, 2014, 3:00 pm
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Every summer Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney has one full week to reap what his scouting staff has sewn.

Through five days of development camp and two full scrimmage games, Mahoney is pleased with what he’s seen, especially from 2014 first-round selection Jakub Vrana.

Taken 13th overall on June 27 in Philadelphia, Vrana’s speed and creativity have been evident through the first two scrimmages. On Thursday afternoon he blew past a defenseman for a breakaway, and pulled a sick move on a shootout to score a goal.

On Friday morning, the 18-year-old Czech blasted a slap shot under the crossbar in an 8-3 rout for Team Red.

“That was a shot not a lot of people are going to stop,” Mahoney said. “But I also like that he was the first man back [on defense] and back-checked and disrupted the play. So he’s showing he’s a very determined young man as far as playing defense.”

Vrana’s linemate, Andre Burakovsky, scored 41 goals as a left wing for the Erie Otters of the OHL last season and has also been impressive while adapting to a new position: center.

“I think it’s an opportunity to see him work at that position and it opens the ice up for him,” said Caps assistant coach Lane Lambert, who will help make the decision over whether Burakovsky returns to Erie for a second season or begins his pro career with the AHL Hershey Bears or the Capitals.

Another player that stood out in both scrimmages was center Travis Boyd, a sixth-round pick of the Caps in 2011 [177th overall] who has committed to playing his senior season at Minnesota, where he set career highs last season with nine goals and 23 assists in 41 games.

“The puck seems to follow him around,” Lambert said. “He’s got great hockey sense, great vision. He has been very noticeable. There’s a certain knack to having the puck follow you around. That doesn’t happen by accident and it’s nice to see.”

With new general manager Brian MacLellan and an entirely new coaching staff headed by Barry Trotz, this year’s development camp has taken on a different look with fewer scrimmages and more teaching.

Saturday will mark the final day of the six-day camp and will feature the final scrimmage game, scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

“The camp is designed to bring players in and teach them the Washington Capitals’ way and how we want things to be done,” assistant coach Lane Lambert said. “With that being said, there were a couple adjustments to the schedule prior to camp starting.

“We’re teaching the players how to be pros, what’s important. We’re trying to develop a culture with these players right from the get-go.”

In addition to motivational speakers and sessions with a nutritionist, the Caps’ prospects also tried taking in a Washington Nationals game that was postponed due to thunderstorms.

Asked how he would describe the Washington Capitals’ way, Lambert echoed what Trotz has been preaching to the team’s prospects all week.

“It’s team-first and you’re able to count on each guy beside you and across the room from you,” Lambert said. “There’s a lot of togetherness, a lot of team-oriented concepts.”

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