Saturday, September 20, 2008

Looking back to look ahead

The Peerless hails from a part of the world that includes in it what are called the “Endless Mountains.” It is a beautiful part of the world where, as the name suggests, there are hilltops as far as the eye can see. This past week, we were reminded of that in a way in looking at the players the Capitals brought to rookie camp. Because, this past week was not about this year or next; it was about five years, ten years from now. And in that, the Capitals’ potential seems – for what might be the first time in the history of the franchise – endless.

Although it is tempting to look at the team one follows closely and see only the positives – to engage in Pollyanna-like thoughts of what might be – the group brought to rookie camp this week included a host of players who could be contributing NHL'ers, and in more than a few cases could include some who will make quite an impression in the decade to come.

If one looks only at the defense, the hopefuls at camp included such as: Josh Godfrey, Karl Alzner, and Viktor Dovgan who could crack an NHL roster down the road (or sooner). One could add that to the 25-and-under crowd of defensemen that is already on the Caps roster or who could be on it in the near future. That group, for sake of argument, might look like this:

Shaone Morrisonn
Mike Green
Jeff Schultz
Milan Jurcina
Sami Lepisto
Karl Alzner
Josh Godfrey
John Carlson
Viktor Dovgan

Five years from now, that group would still be 30 or younger to start the season. You'd have to think all of them are NHL-roster capable, and some of them major contributors. And Joe Finley hasn't shown up yet.

Then you have the forwards. Mathieu Perreault, Francois Bouchard, Oscar Osala, Dmitri Kugryshev, and Anton Gustafsson are among those who skated this week who might log time in the NHL (you might add a few to this list). Add that to the 25-and-under forward list (to which you might care to add a few names), and you might have something like…

Alex Ovechkin
Alexander Semin
Nicklas Backstrom
Eric Fehr
Boyd Gordon
Brooks Laich
Tomas Fleischmann
Chris Bourque
Mathieu Perreault
Francois Bouchard
Oscar Osala
Dmitri Kugryshev
Anton Gustafsson

Again, five years from now this group would still be 30 or younger. The goalies being counted on – Simeon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth – are each only 20 years old.

The kids skating this past week are going to push some other guys hard and some of those right off the club in a few years. Although there are no guarantees of success in the future, for the first time, perhaps, in the history of this franchise there is depth of talent as far as the eye can see into the future. What was on display this week was the embodiment of the club’s strategy – to build a perennial contender using the draft and home-grown prospects as its core element. So, as the big club takes the ice this morning to ring in the 2008-2009 season, with all the promise that suggests, remember that the years to come look rather bright for the Caps and their fans, too.


Tyler said...

Agreed. But it's worth noting that it's highly likely that some of those kids will be traded at/near the deadline as the Caps gear up for a playoff run.

But I agree: The Caps deal from a position of depth.

The Peerless said...

Arithmetic could affect the Caps' ability to deal at the deadline. They still have cap issues that will require some work just to get under the cap for opening night. To provide the flexibility they need for February, they might need to make some more moves in the next few weeks.