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Notebook: Almost All Capitals Back, How Kuemper, Ovechkin & More Look

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Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper

ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin skates with power, his tongue hanging out like Michael Jordan as he weaves through cones and fires a shot on new goaltender Darcy Kuemper. He stops it with his head, and as the puck bounces back out and off his helmet, Ovechkin comes over and gives his new netminder a pat on the back.

Kuemper was among several Capitals to join the skate on Monday as he took the ice for the first time as a member of the team with his new gear. He joined fellow goaltender Charlie Lindgren, who has been skating with the team since last week.

In addition to Kuemper, new defenseman Erik Gustafsson joined the club, as did Gabriel Carlsson. Connor McMichael and Trevor van Riemsdyk were back as well, and Lars Eller also took part in Monday’s session. The following players are now in D.C. (Note: not all players took part in Monday’s skate but were around/have taken the ice in informal sessions).

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Carl Hagelin, T.J. Oshie, Dylan Strome, Connor Brown, Lars Eller, Connor McMichael, Marcus Johansson Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway, Hendrix Lapierre, Joe Snively, Aliaksei Protas, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Nick Jensen, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Erik Gustafsson, Alex Alexeyev, Gabriel Carlsson, Vincent Iorio, Darcy Kuemper, Charlie Lindgren.

GOTTA SEE IT: Darcy Kuemper Takes Ice For First Time For Washington Capitals

It looks like Washington is still waiting on Conor Sheary, who has been training in Massachusetts, and Martin Fehervary, who is making his way back from Bratislava, Slovakia. No. 42 had an injury scare on Saturday, as he took a high stick to the face that chipped both of his front teeth and left him with a nasty gash on his chin. He is fine, though, and went to a dentist overseas to get it all taken care of. Henrik Borgstrom, Matt Irwin and Lucas Johansen are also still en route. And several other prospects, as well as Hershey Bears signees, are in attendance as well.

Monday’s session presented quite a few takeaways, though. Kuemper looked sharp as he made his first appearance between the pipes for the Capitals. He was using his 6-5 frame to his advantage and covering a lot of the net and also moving quickly between the crease, tracking pucks well and controlling rebounds. Lindgren also looked strong with some big saves, and both appear to be meshing well as they hit it off and chatted it up.

The day started with skating coach Wendy Marco leading drills for some players, while goaltending coach Scott Murray worked with Kuemper and Lindgren at the other end of the ice. After that, Murray led the informal skate, where players worked on one-touch passing, skating through cones and shots. Ovechkin showcased his rocket of a shot and eventually, after being denied on a couple of occasions by Kuemper, went bardown on his new teammate. Hagelin is also playing with great speed and appears to be well on the right track, and he also had a nice goal and some good looks.

READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Rallying Around Carl Hagelin As He Attempts Comeback

One player that stood out: McMichael. The 21-year-old looks fast and in shape, and he was utilizing his high hockey IQ, quick hands and strong skating to generate opportunities for himself. Eller also looked impressive, and it looks like his skating and positioning have taken a big step forward, as well. Both of them will likely be battling for the third-line center role, so it’ll be interesting to see how their improvements pay off as they compete for ice time.

After that, Washington scrimmaged with the red jerseys facing off against the white jerseys.

Longtime friends Strome and Brown were having a blast while skating together and also appear to have recaptured that on-ice chemistry from their Erie days. Strome, meanwhile, showed off his quick hands and dazzled with a couple of nice plays and a solid breakaway tally. Brown was using his speed, reading the ice well and playing a solid two-way game while getting to those high-danger areas, winning puck battles and showcasing his shot.

Here are some other notes:

  • It also looks like Hagelin has improved his shot, and it’s amazing to see him come this far since a ruptured choroid threatened to take everything away.
  • Gustafsson is an excellent skater, and he showed that right away once he took the ice on Monday. He is fluid on the ice and also has speed going both forward and backward, and the way he cycles the puck is impressive. Head coach Peter Laviolette will like working with him for sure.
  • Protas looks like he’s added quite a bit of strength.
  • Oshie also took good care fo the puck and stood out. He also lingered and was one of the last off the ice as he worked on his skating.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS PROSPECTS: Hendrix Lapierre Says He Was Told To ‘Calm Down’ While Adding Size

Rookie camp kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 15. The Capitals will then return for off-ice testing and physicals on Sept. 21. On-ice sessions for training camp will officially kick off on Sept. 22.

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