Who Are These Guys? A Deeper Dive On The Free Agent Invites To Capitals 2022 Development Camp


The Washington Capitals released their roster and schedule for this weeks development camp. The roster includes 35 total invitees: 19 forwards, 12 defensemen and four goaltenders. The invite list included 13 free agent invites (not drafted or signed by the Capitals): nine forwards and four defensemen.

So who are these free agent invites? Let’s take a little closer look as we get set for the start of development camp.

FORWARDS

Grant Cruikshank (23) LW
Cruikshank, from Delafield, Wis, played last season for the Minnesota Gophers and spent three seasons with Colorado college before that. He plans to transfer to St. Cloud State for his 5th year of eligibility this fall. In his one season with the Gophers, Cruikshank had seven goals, 15 points, was a plus-8 and won 55.3% (83-67) of his faceoffs in 33 games playing mostly wing. He helped Minnesota win the Big 10 regular season title and reach its first Frozen Four since 2014.

Ethan Frank (24) C
Frank wrapped up his college career where he played five seasons for Western Michigan and then signed an amateur tryout agreement (ATO) with the Hershey Bears. In the five games he played he demonstrated a fairly strong shot and good on ice awareness, recording one goal (here). He will play for the Bears next season.

Justin Hryckowian (21) C
Hryckowian was named co-MVP for Northeastern this past season, and proved to be a threat in the faceoff circle, winning faceoffs at an astounding .627% win-rate – missing some time late in the season due to injury. His return was immediately felt when he returned to the lineup in the Hockey East quarterfinals against Boston College, netting the second goal in a 3-2 victory over the Eagles. Justin made the Hockey East All-Rookie team, finishing his rookie campaign with seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points.

Peter Laviolette (24) F
Laviolette is the son of Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette. He was born in Wheeling, West Virginia when his father was head coach of the Wheeling Nailers, his first head coaching job. Laviolette, jr.  wrapped up his 5th season at Plymouth State University this past spring.

Julian Napravnik (25) RW
Napravnik finished up his 4th season at Minnesota State this past spring. He finished strong, posting his best offensive numbers in his final season. He then was signed by the Bears where he will play this coming fall. He played four games for the Bears this past season without any points.

Jaxon Nelson (22) C
Nelson, a 6’-4”, 210lb center from Magnolia, Minnesota, completed his third season at Minnesota, where he will return for the 2022-23 season. Nelson’s family raises cattle on a place just north of the town of Magnolia. Nelson skated in 26 games as a junior for the Gophers during the 2021-22 season, recording 10 points (six goals, four assists) including a career high for goals in a single season, and helped the Gophers win the 2021-22 Big Ten Regular-Season Championship and advance to the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time since 2014.

David Silye (23) C
Silye finished his second year of college hockey this past season with Minnesota State (with Ethan Frank and Benton Maass). He posted eight goals and nine assists during the regular season for Minnesota State, advancing to the Frozen Four final. Silye had two GWGs with 65 shots on goal and +20 on the season. He had a goal and an assist in 5-1 win over Minnesota in national semi-final game in Boston (April 7) and Also assisted on Reggie Lutz’s GWG in the win over the Gophers for a two-point game. Silye registered a three-goal hat trick in 7-1 win over St. Thomas during Hockey Day Minnesota (Jan. 22) outdoor game played at Blakeslee Stadium.

Camden Thiesing (21) C
Thiesing was a freshman at Ohio State last season, appearing in his first 18 games, with three goals and eight assists for 11 points. He was tied for third on the team in assists and tied for fourth in points. He scored a third period gamewinner at Bowling Green Dec. 17. and posted his first collegiate points Oct. 15 vs. UConn with a goal and an assist.

Nicholas Zabaneh (21) C
Zabaneh appeared in 30 games last season for Boston U., scoring one goal and added a career-best nine assists for a career-high 10 points. He notched his first collegiate goal and added two assists as part of a career-best three-point night in an 8-6 victory over Merrimack on Oct. 23. He tallied two assists in a 6-3 triumph over Boston College on Feb. 26 and assisted on the game-winning goal in a 4-0 victory over Vermont on Jan. 21.

DEFENSEMEN

Linden Alger (22) LHD
Alger, 6’-3”, hails from Boston, Massachusetts. In his freshman season in 2020-21 he appeared in seven games and had an even plus-minus rating. He made his collegiate debut vs. UConn (11/20), paired with classmate Aaron Bohlinger.

Ethan Frisch (21) RHD
Frisch was named assistant captain for North Dakota last season, his junior season. In the 2020-21 season he was named an NCHC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete and a member of the NCHC All-Academic Team for the second straight season. Frisch posted his best offensive numbers last season, finishing with nine goals and six assists.

Simon Motew (19) RHD
Motew, just 19, spent last season playing for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL. The 6’-1” bluelier hails from Highland Park, Illinois, and was a member of the Chicago Mission 15’s during the 2018-19 season where he tallied three goals and 10 assists for 13 points in 20 games played. In August 2019, he was a member of the US Under-17 Men’s Select Team that competed at the Five Nations Tournament in Füssen, Germany. He recorded a goal and two assists as the US finished second. During the OHL Shutdown (2020-21 Season), Motew played for the Chicago Cougars where he tallied 16 goals and 29 assists in 21 games played. In September of 2021, Motew was invited to Nashville Predators Rookie Camp as a free agent invite. After returning to the Rangers for the 2021-22 regular season, Simon tallied a career-high five goals and 12 assists.

Ryan Siedem (21) RHD
Siedem ranked No. 116 among North American Skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s final list prior to the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He was a member of the Central Illinois Flying Aces of the USHL in 2018-19 and led the team and finished seventh among defensemen in the USHL in scoring with 36 points (four goals, 32 assists) in 60 games. He was named to 2019 USHL/NHL Prospects Game, recording an assist. He is now teammates with Capitals goaltending prospect Mitchell Gibson at Harvard University.

CONCLUSION

The free agent invites included one left winger, six centers and two right wingers. Defensively, the Capitals invited one left-handed defenseman and three right handed free agent defensemen.

The key will be to identify potential diamonds in the rough. And by all means, not to let one slip through the cracks.

The Capitals development camp begins today and runs through Friday, culminating in the camp scrimmage at Capital One Arena on Friday night.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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5 Responses to Who Are These Guys? A Deeper Dive On The Free Agent Invites To Capitals 2022 Development Camp

  1. Anonymous says:

    Missing Tanner Janot hurts, shows that Dev camp just isn’t enough time to evaluate players.

  2. novafyre says:

    I assume that they bring their own skates. Do they bring their own sticks too? Do they get to keep anything as a souvenir? Caps water bottle? Seriously, I imagine that going to these camps and ATOs is not cheap. Have any idea what costs are? Are they covered by Caps insurance? What if they had another Hags accident?

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I happened to walk through the hotel across the street from MedStar a few years ago just when the prospects were getting ready to leave after the end of camp. There were bags from all over the hockey globe and sticks as well. I’ve seen the camp jerseys up for sale on Maigrey site, so I don’t think they get to keep those. Maybe shorts, t-shirt? Maybe helmet? Gloves.

  3. DWGie26 says:

    Doubt it is any different than AAA kids going to camps trying to get visibility for juniors or college scouts. usually get to keep the jersey and maybe a water bottle or t-shirt. Insurance… not a chance for undrafted guys. They are just trying to get noticed (like Tanner). There will be guys this year that we will end up taking a closer follow on as they do their next season. None of them will get contracts for this season. I guess possible someone could get an AHL contract, but most of these guys are already committed to their college for next year.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t realize Jannot camp thru Caps development camp. Oops!

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