Washington Capitals rookie camp is officially underway at Medstar Capitals Iceplex with the team’s top prospects, recent draft picks and free-agent invites taking the ice.
Here are a couple of takeaways from Day 1.
Capitals Top Prospects Shine
Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre led a group of promising Capitals prospects to take the ice. Both were playing with a lot of speed and skill, and McMichael is still putting on muscle to help him transition to the next level.
McMichael said he is now up to around 189 pounds. He added that he wanted to primarily focus on adding strength as he looks to make the NHL jump sooner rather than later. Over the offseason, he trained with Gary Roberts, a “top elite hockey training facility” that also hosts the likes of Steven Stamkos and Connor McDavid.
“Those guys are obviously great players and they’re still great players. So being on the same ice, it’s pretty cool,” McMichael said of training with top NHLers. “Just watching those guys day in and day out, it’s cool to be around them and watch how they grow [and you] kind of just pick up on little things.”
Lapierre also appears to be carrying over the momentum from a strong showing last season. The 19-year-old was skating with confidence, speed and poise, and he was going hard in puck battles and showcasing a strong shot to boot.
Another standout: Aliaksei Protas. The 6-foot-6 pivot was working on his shot and passing toward the end of the first day and also showed off strong two-way play over the course of the first on-ice session.
Kody Clark also had a jump in his step and was having a blast out there. Keep an eye on him heading into training camp.
Iorio, Krebs Make Capitals Debut
Vinnie Iorio and Dru Krebs were among the Capitals’ 2021 draft picks to take the ice for rookie camp. Both of them impressed with strong skating. Krebs’ speed and fluid skating help him transition quickly and give him an edge against his opponents.
Beyond skating, Iorio also displayed his puck-passing abilities and a rocket of a shot that he’ll look to continue improving. He and Protas worked together on passing and shooting near the end of practice.
Haakon Hanelt, who is listed on the roster, was not present at Capitals camp on Saturday. The team said he could skate on Sunday.
Nardella Coming Back From Injury
Bobby Nardella, who signed a two-year, one-way extension with Washington over the offseason, was on the ice and continues to recover from a lingering shoulder injury. Nardella said the ailment “kind of flared up” while he was playing overseas in Sweden and that he decided to get surgery to repair the problem. The goal is for him to be ready by the start of Hershey’s training camp.
“I just to control what I can control and you know, [put] the work in every day and just focus on rehabbing and getting my strength back,” Nardella said.