Thursday, July 10, 2008

Five Things

Thanks to Tyler for passing along his observations from a couple of days at Development Camp. I'm going to post them verbatim and let you all discuss the merits:

Five things we have learned so far at Development Camp
  1. Karl Alzner is the real deal. Defensively he's positionally sound and he has an uncommon economy of movement. He makes quick, smart decisions with the puck. He plays with his head up. He hits no one. Lidstrom-esque. He is the only NHL-ready player at camp.
  2. Sasha Pokulok is a bust. Taken with the Caps' first pick (14th overall) in the 2005 draft, Pokulok has played in both the ECHL and AHL in recent years. He's maxed out: He hits no one, he defends mildly. Even when surrounded by players with far less experience, Pokulok has turned the puck over at every opportunity.
  3. Oskar Osala will play in the NHL. The rookie-of-the-year in the Finnish league, Osala is ticketed for Hershey this fall. He's no Euro-weenie: He's 6-4, 220, and he hits everything that moves. He skates well with the puck, has a hard shot, and isn't shy about streaking toward the net. Sure, he has a little trouble getting off his shot in traffic. But he'll learn.
  4. Michael Dubuc was the surprise player of the first scrimmage. (He did not play in the second one.) A scorer from the QMJHL, where he went 44-34-78 in 2007-08, Dubuc would be a good FA signing for Hershey. He showed speed, a willingness to shoot the puck and an ability to score.
  5. Pleasant surprise of Thursday: St. Cloud State backup goalie Dan Dunn, who is every inch of 6-foot-4. He moved better than you'd expect a 20-year-old of his size, used his frame effectively, and showed good hockey sense. Yes, he has a big five-hole he must learn to close. But he's worth watching.


Andi said...

Any comments on Neuvirth or Varlamov, or even Holtby?

DMG said...

No matter how many times I hear it, I can't accept Sasha Pokulok is a bust.

Maybe it's because a good NHL on his part would alleviate the fact that the Capitals were screwed into picking 14th in a draft where they should have been picking in the top 5; a draft that included Crosby, Bobby Ryan, Marc Staal, Anze Kopitar, Jack Johnson, Carey Price and Gilbert Brule

Tyler said...

Neuwirth didn't play in today's scrimmage.

Varlamov looked much less nervous, much calmer today. His movement was tighter, he responded to the play rather than guessing, and boy does he shut off the bottom half of the net. He's a little iffy when it comes to playing the puck, and he's gotta work on rebound control.

VT Caps Fan said...

While I wont be as harsh on Pokulok;

I was very pleased with what I saw with Osalo (can we call him double O) and Alzner. My surprise of camp who I thought played pretty well (for the part of the scrimmage I saw was) Godfrey. He has some moxy to him. I'm rooting for him to do well in the AHL so he spends some time up with the Caps.

And Dunn was pretty good.

Andi said...

@tyler: I had been reading he was injured :( Hope it's not too bad.

Did you get a chance to see Hauswirth (sp?) at all? There's a few other bloggers commenting that he's a monster out there, but more details are all good. I'll probably be late to the scrimmage Saturday (DAMN YOU WORK). I'd like to hear another take.

b.orr4 said...

Wow, do we disagree on Pokulok. In fact, I'll state that in the two scrimmages I saw, he looked like the best defenseman on the ice next to Alzner. He used his size effectively, is a very good skater and, with all due respect, did not turn the puck over much at all. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that one. Your assessment of Osala I will agree with.

pepper said...

Godfrey, I think, pretty solidly fits in the org's depth chart. Seeing him and Alzner go through practice drills together on Thursday was, perhaps, a glimpse into the future. Pokulok, not so much.

Hey, if any of you are at camp Friday or Saturday, say hi! I'll be the guy wearing the (hopefully recognizable) paper fedora.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? We spent four million on Fedorov! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Granted, he's worth more to us than any other team right now, but still.... 2.5 would have been just fine. The Caps got SMOKED on this one....

Joseph said...

Keep in mind, I'm basing this off only being able to watch Wednesday's scrimmage. I am in no way an expert analyst. Hell, I'm not even an amateur analyst.

I saw him give up 6 goals in his portion of Wednesday's scrimmage.
One would guess from those numbers that he's not NHL ready at all. (Understatement of the year)

Damn what a presence that kid has on the ice! He's going to look awesome in a Caps sweater.

A bust??? I liked watching him play and think he'll be ready in a couple years but suit yourself.

The guy is huge. He looks taller than 6'4 but I suppose the skates add some height eh?

Definitely a pleasant surprise, considering he's still in school. Maybe he will give Neuvirth and Varlamov some competition.

Seemed nervous on Wednesday but played well.


Tyler said...

Keep in mind that Pokulok has a couple years of North American pro hockey experience. No one else here this week does. And he still looks discombobulated and turnover-prone.

Hauswirth (also sp?) was mostly a warm body.

JP said...

Pokulok has a couple years of North American pro hockey experience

... as well as two years in a top NCAA program.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I completely agree that Pokulok is a road cone to end all road cones. All season in Hershey I was hoping he'd figure out what he was doing, but up until the day he got sent to Carolina, he seemed to be spectating from the blueline.

He has moments of being in the right place, but for the most part, I'd rather see McNeill doing his best to be where he needs to be instead of Pokuluk wathing the game.

b.orr4 said...

@Tyler-As I said earlier, we'll just agree to disagree on Pokulok. Time will be the final judge on him as a player.

exwhaler said...

@Tyler--much of Pokulok's two years of professional hockey has been spent recovering from two consecutive concussions. He played only 17 games in 2006-2007, and 49 games last year between the ECHL and AHL. The idea that he's a "bust" ignores that severe medical issue and only focuses on the fact he was a reach as a first round draft pick. Which, to me, isn't the point any more. First, he was a defenseman picked at 14th, not in the top 5; we all talk about how Eminger was rushed, but when it comes to Pokulok, there seems to be a higher expectation. Second, his development arc is going to be longer than originally expected because of those two concussions. The fact he's playing hockey at all is reason for encouragement. At this point, Pokulok has become a project; whether or not the Capitals organization has the patience or space to see if, at age 22, he can get back to the prospect he was remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

Let me preface my comments by saying that I only went to the Thursday scrimmage, not both. But here are my observations: In terms of the forwards, I didn't think any of them stood out particularly. A number of them had the odd good play here and there, but nothing really consistent. Bouchard was a bit of a disappointment to me given how well he did last year...he took a couple of minor penalties and didn't generate many opportunitues on offense. Osala made a bigger impression on me last year, but I wouldn't say that I was disappointed in his play.

With respect to the defense, no great standouts either, which is probably a good thing. Alzner was incredibly steady as was Godfrey. I watched Pokuluk quite closely and I didn't think his play stood out one way or the other (the exception when he made a little mini-rush from the red line)...I certainly wouldn't call him a bust based on what I saw yesterday.

Goaltending yesterday was pretty solid...a good job was done by everyone. I was very suprised by the lack of odd man rushes and gross defensive miscues...everyone was pretty reasponsible defensively. Also, where was Perrault; I didn't see him yesterday and wanted to see whether or not he still had that water bug aspect to his game still going.

Overall, other than Alzner this year and perhaps Osala in another year, I think that these kids are easily 2-3+ years away.