The Washington Capitals officially wrapped up their annual development camp on Wednesday. There were plenty of storylines and lots of positives during camp. It seemed a lot more competitive and physical than in years prior, likely due to the amount of high-end talent that participated.
Assistant general manager Ross Mahoney was very pleased with all of the players that participated. However, there were a few that stood out to the Capitals’ management. The most hyped name coming into camp was 2023 first-round pick Ryan Leonard. It’s safe to say that he lived up to the hype, especially with his shot.
“He showed why we were so pleased to get him. Strong. Explosive… his shot was on display here at this development camp we had. It’s not only accurate, not only does he have a quick release, but it’s such a heavy shot,” Mahoney said. “He is very competitive. He’s not afraid to take the puck to the net to score goals and those tougher areas.”
Another player that the Capitals were looking forward to seeing in action was Ivan Miroshnichenko. This was his first time participating in on-ice activities for Washington due to his cancer diagnosis. He is now cancer free and looked solid this week. His shot release was outstanding and he looked stronger.
Building strength was a point of emphasis in Mahoney’s press conference.
“I’m really happy for him. Look where he was about 13 or 14 months ago,” Mahoney said. “He had cancer treatments and see where he is and then perform like he did this week as really good. He could shoot the puck and he also plays hard.”
The 19-year-old has a legitimate shot to play in the Capitals lineup at some point during the season. That is if he lives up to his hype in Hershey.
Alexander Suzdalev was another guy that stood out in camp. He really shined in the three-on-three tournament, going bar down a couple of times. Earlier in camp, the No. 70 overall selection said he also needed to get stronger heading into this season. He has the option to go back to the WHL, or report to Hershey.
“He played really well. He started to get stronger. Obviously he came off a really good year with Regina last year. He had 86 points,” Mahoney said. “A lot of people thought it was because he was with [Connor] Bedard, but he actually didn’t play with Bedard a lot five-on-five. From watching him last camp and watching this camp, you can see he’s getting stronger and more confident.”
One player that does need to get bigger, and especially improve his skating, is second-round pick, Andrew Cristall. The Capitals signed the 18-year-old forward to a three-year, entry-level contract on Thursday.
“In talking with the strength coaches, they’re gonna give him a plan to work off the ice to improve his leg strength, which will probably help him with his overall speed,” Mahoney said. “He’s got really good edges and so you can really turn and change directions really quickly and he’s got a really good chance of pace. It’s just a matter of that top-end speed, but he’s very young too. I think building that leg straight will help him become even faster. You can see how agile he was in the three-on-three, in addition to the hands and the sense.”
The Capitals begin their rookie camp on Sept. 16 through Sep. 19 at Medstar Capitals Iceplex.
By Jacob Cheris