2016 Rookie Tournament: The Future of the Washington Capitals – Meet Five of the “New Kids”

Connor Hobbs

From September 17th through the 20th the Washington Capitals’ prospects will play in a tournament verse the prospects of the Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. The event will take place in Florida in a round-robin format. You can find all the information, including the Caps’ roster, here.

The usual prospects will be there like Barber, Vrana, Boyd, Sanford, Bowey, Djoos, Lewington, Siegenthaler, and Vanecek, and we know what they can bring. But, it’s the new names that will be worth paying attention to.

So here are the 5 prospects to keep an on eye on during the tournament.

One of those new faces is Dan DeSalvo; a college grad that posted 102 points (29 goals, 73 assists) in 153 games over 4 years (0.67 points per page average) in the NCAA. He is a left winger with a small stature at 5’8″ 172 pounds, but what he loses in size he makes up for with his play-making abilities and shot, as shown in the you tube clip, below.

Last season he posted 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 55 ECHL games before posting 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in 17 games in the AHL. It’s a small sample size for the free agent, but those numbers are promising. But he is 24 years old leaving him with very little room for error, he needs to show now that he’s worth a contract.

When you’re expected to go in the 5th round or even lower in the draft but end up going in the 3rd round, then there might be something about you that most don’t see. That’s the case for Garrett Pilon. Garrett didn’t even go to the draft in Buffalo because he didn’t think he would even be called, at least not as early as he thought. Pilon is a small player at 5’10” 174 pounds, but like DeSalvo, he makes up for that size with his other abilities. The words used most to describe Garrett are “smart” and “hardworking“. He plays a full 200 foot game like a true centermen and uses his hockey IQ, hands, and great shot to make himself useful. In his first season in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers he put up 47 points in 71 games, which is impressive when he did it all while being buried in the bottom of the lineup. As he ages, he should get more ice time and this could lead to more production. If he can bulk up and keep improving through hard work then the Caps could have found a diamond in the rough. You can read NoVa Caps’ interview with Garrett by clicking here.

Speaking of diamonds in the rough, Caps might have found one already in defensemen Connor Hobbs. He was a 5th round pick in the 2015 draft. The reason he might have fallen under the radar is because the season leading up to his draft year he played for the Medicine Hats in the WHL but only for 12 games before asking for a trade. He sat around without playing for awhile before being traded to the Regina Pats and putting up 16 points in 33 games with them. The Caps snagged him that summer before he had a spectacular season for Regina putting up 41 points in 58 games, that includes 19 goals. He continued his great year through the playoffs potting in 4 goals and 6 assists in 12 games. He’s only 19, but looks to be getting better and better. He’s a rare breed in that he’s a puck moving defensemen but also has no problem mixing it up; he had 106 penalty minutes last season! I wonder how many points he would have had if he spent more time on the ice and not in the penalty box. He already has a contract with the Caps but they want to see him improving his overall game.

The very next round after Hobbs was taken, the Caps drafted his Regina d-partner, Colby Williams. The issue with Colby is he was plagued with injury last season and only played 19 regular season games, though he still had 12 points, before putting up 9 points in 12 playoff games. In has last 2 seasons in the WHL he averaged 0.69 points a game. Very impressive. What he needs to prove this year is his health. No team is going to shell out an important space on their roster if they think a player can’t stay healthy. This is probably why he signed a 1 year deal with the Hershey Bears. If he can prove that he’s worth it in the AHL then the Caps will surely sign him to his first NHL contract. But first it starts with this weekend’s rookie tournament.

Lastly, if there is one thing the Caps are really good at it’s finding great goaltenders. In the last 10 years the Caps have drafted Semyon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer (note all 4 of those goalies are in this year’s World Cup), Pheonix Copley (free agent signing), Vitek Vanecek, and Ilya Samsonov. That is an extremely impressive list. The newest addition to that elite group is Adam Carlson, who was a free agent signing last spring.

Nothing in his stats says he’s something special, but neither did Copley’s stats. The Caps goalie scouts and Mitch Korn just seem know a good goalie when they see it. Adam was cut from his high school team not once, but twice, and he’s worked so hard since then that he signed his first pro contract. He is expected to start the season in the ECHL, but he is 22, older than Vanecek, who will be in the AHL this season, so Adam could climb the ladder very quickly if he does well.

The Caps could be bringing the most talented group of prospects to the tournament this weekend, even with some major departures; like Chandler Stephenson, Tim McGauley, Nathan Walker, and Ilya Samsonov. But look out for these 5 young men listed above to prove their worth. Only 2 of these players have contracts (Carlson and Hobbs), so it should be a good tournament of intensity and skill to prove their worth.

By Luke Adomanis


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2 Responses to 2016 Rookie Tournament: The Future of the Washington Capitals – Meet Five of the “New Kids”

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