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September 9, 2013
Top 10 Prospects 2013
Washington Capitals

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Washington Capitals Top 10 Prospects

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Center
2. Andre Burakovsky, Left Wing
3. Madison Bowey, Defense
4. Riley Barber, Right Wing
5. Thomas Wilson, Right Wing
6. Nate Schmidt, Defense
7. Christian Djoos, Defense
8. Stanislav Galiev, Left Wing
9. Connor Carrick, Defense
10. Tomas Kundratek, Defense

Organizational Ranking: 11th

System Overview

Washington gets a high organizational ranking due to a very good top end. Their top four to five prospects are great, and their top two prospects have very high ceilings. Kuznetsov is a huge part of this system, but the great development of Barber, Djoos, Kundratek, and Carrick has done a lot for the Caps' ranking, along with the signing of Nate Schmidt. However, Stanislav Galiev's season was a very notable disappointment.

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1. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Center
2011-12 Ranking: 1st
Date of birth: 05/19/1992
Age: 21
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 187
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 51 GP, 19 G, 44 P, 20:38 ATOI (Traktor, KHL)
Acquired: First round, 26th overall in 2010 by Washington

Year in Review: Kuznetsov was one of the top players in the KHL, although he did not perform as well as he did the year before with Russia's national team.

The Good: Kuznetsov took yet another step in his development last season, firmly establishing himself as one of the game's elite prospects, as well as one of the best players in the KHL. He is a high-end skater, puck handler, and passer, and his dynamic offensive abilities are always apparent. He changes gears effortlessly, regularly displaying a high level of creativity with the puck. When you factor in his good size, he has got a lot of elements to like. He could step into an NHL top six right away.

The Bad: Kuznetsov's defense has improved significantly, and while that area is not an issue, he can always keep improving. He also needs to continue to get stronger.

Projection: He could be a perennial All Star.

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2. Andre Burakovsky, Left Wing
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 02/09/1995
Age: 18
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 178
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 43 GP, 4 G, 11 P (Malmo, Allsvenskan)
Acquired: First round, 23rd overall in 2013 by Washington

Year in Review: Burakovsky was inconsistent in the first half, and he struggled to get ice time in the second-tier Swedish league, but he worked his way into the top six during the second half.

The Good: Burakovsky is a highly-talented forward with a lot of potential. A high-end skater, he gains speed quickly, has a smooth, efficient stride, and a great top speed. Burakovsky is quick with his feet and hands, as he has the puck skills to make flashy plays and evade pressure well. He is a creative offensive player who makes good moves, sees the ice well, and generates offense well. He has a decent physical game, too.

The Bad: Burakovsky's defensive game is an area where he needs work, as his positioning has to be improved. He has periods where he tries to do too much, trying to be a one-man army. His consistency can also be a problem.

Projection: He could be a top line winger.

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3. Madison Bowey, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 04/22/1995
Age: 18
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 69 GP, 12 G, 30 P (Kelowna, WHL)
Acquired: Second round, 53rd overall in 2013 by Washington

Year in Review: Bowey had a quality season, with his play elevating in the second half. He was Canada's top defenseman at the U18s, where they won gold.

The Good: Bowey is an above-average to plus skater, with a powerful stride, good mechanics, and quality agility and four-way speed. He is aggressive with his gap control in terms of closing quickly with his mobility and playing the body well. Bowey will separate players off of the puck with his body or stick positioning. He has very good puck-moving skill, be it as a distributor or moving it through the neutral zone himself. Bowey also features a plus shot from the point.

The Bad: His defensive reads and overall decisions can be inconsistent, as he is still a little raw, although those areas have been improving. Bowey also can play a risky style.

Projection: He could be a good second pairing defenseman.

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4. Riley Barber, Right Wing
2011-12 Ranking: 11th
Date of birth: 02/07/1994
Age: 19
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 185
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 40 GP, 15 G, 39 P (Miami U., CCHA)
Acquired: Sixth round, 167th overall in 2012 by Washington

Year in Review: Barber had a great breakout season, being named a top team All-CCHA All Star and winning gold at the World Juniors. He was the top-scoring college freshman in the country.

The Good: Barber was a great do-it-all player for Miami this season, where he logged well over 20 minutes on a nightly basis. He is a powerful skater who accelerates really well and can pressure defenders with speed. Barber also has good puck skills, vision, defensive awareness, and work ethic. He plays at a very good pace as well. He will get scoring chances by going through or around defensemen.

The Bad: Barber is a little small, and that is his most glaring issue, even though he does fight through checks. He needs to continue to get stronger to try and overcome this. He also does not have a true standout skill.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

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5. Thomas Wilson, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 7th
Date of birth: 03/29/1994
Age: 19
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 210
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 48 GP, 23 G, 58 P (Plymouth, OHL)
Acquired: First round, 16th overall in 2012 by Washington

Year in Review: Wilson continued off his success in the 2012 OHL playoffs. He was a top player on a top OHL team, and he developed several key aspects.

The Good: Wilson is an elite physical forward who is big and unusually strong for a U20 player. He has a very tough and hard-working element to his game. He notched a lot of points this season by going to the dirty areas, be it with power moves or planting himself in front of the net, where he was impossible to move for opponents. He is smarter with his physicality, and he did not take as many dumb penalties as he did two seasons ago. Wilson has shown solid defensive value. He protects the puck well and has fine coordination handling it. He positions himself well in the offensive zone, and he makes good decisions with the puck. He has improved his skating immensely, and is arguably a good skater now.

The Bad: Wilson's offensive sense is not a glaring weaknesses, but it is roughly average. He does not really stand out from an offensive standpoint, but he makes decent plays. Still, he will not be a player the offense flows through.

Projection: He could be a second line winger with elite physical value.

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6. Nate Schmidt, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 07/16/1991
Age: 22
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 1909
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 40 GP, 9 G, 32 P (Minnesota, WCHA)
Acquired: College free agent

Year in Review: Schmidt was one of the best defensemen in college hockey. He was a First Team All Star in the WCHA, and a Second Team All-American.

The Good: Schmidt is a high-end puck handler and passer who has wowed observers in the NCAA on many occasions with his skill. He is a creative player with great offensive instincts who projects to play on an NHL teamís power play, if not their top unit. He skates well, and while he does not score a lot, there is potential in his shot as well. His ability to pull off unique offensive plays makes him stand out.

The Bad: The concerns with Schmidt have been his defensive and physical games. The former showed progression this season, as he started to log tougher minutes, as well as be used in critical situations. Schmidt is also slightly undersized, so I question how he will be able to handle NHL-level physicality.

Projection: He could be a second pairing defenseman, and maybe a quality one.

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7. Christian Djoos, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 08/06/1994
Age: 18
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 148
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 47 GP, 2 G, 8 P, 15:34 ATOI (Brynas, SEL)
Acquired: Seventh round, 195th overall in 2012 by Washington

Year in Review: Djoos was a top breakout prospect. He played on the Swedish World Junior team, and ended up being an important defenseman for Brynas by the end of the season.

The Good: Djoos is a mobile, agile defenseman with the four-way ability to stay with his checks well, and the speed to lead a rush. His offensive puck possession skills are very good. He is an instinctive puck-mover from the back end who makes good decisions, plays at a good pace, and can execute difficult plays. Djoos is a quality power play quarterback, and overall, he can be a great starting point for offense. His defensive game took significant strides forward last season as well.

The Bad: Djoos' physical game is his major issue. He is undersized in terms of height, and is extremely lacking in terms of muscle. Due to this, it is hard to see him as better than roughly average in his own end in the NHL. He could still use some slight tweaking in his defensive end play.

Projection: He could be a second pairing defenseman.

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8. Stanislav Galiev, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 3rd
Date of birth: 01/17/1992
Age: 21
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 191
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 17 GP, 0 G, 1 P (Hershey, AHL) / 46 GP, 23 G, 47 P (Reading, ECHL)
Acquired: Third round, 86th overall in 2010 by Washington

Year in Review: Galiev was underwhelming in his rookie pro season in the AHL. He spent a lot of time in the ECHL, where he was one of the league's top offensive players.

The Good: Galiev has top-end offensive abilities. He is a plus skater with great speed and first-step jump. He is also a high-end puck handler who can make defenders miss with regularity. He has developed a quality playmaking game as well, and when you add a good shot to the mix, he has all the raw components you want in a top-six scorer.

The Bad: Galiev struggled last year with many of the aspects he did at the beginning of his junior career: his physical game, defense, and game-to-game intensity. Aside from his strength, those aspects showed progression in the QMJHL, as Galiev worked to improve them. He needs to continue to show the commitment to work on those areas as a pro.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

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9. Connor Carrick, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 15th
Date of birth: 04/13/1994
Age: 19
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 190
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 68 GP, 12 G, 44 P (Plymouth, OHL)
Acquired: Fifth round, 137th overall in 2012 by Washington

Year in Review: Carrick had a quality season, where he took significant steps forward in his development, and was a top offensive defenseman in the OHL.

The Good: Carrick is an above-average skater with good quick bursts and the ability to lead a rush well up the ice. He is a skilled player who creates a lot with his speed and offensive hockey sense. Carrick can flash plus vision, and he sets up plays in a variety of ways, be it on the power play, stretching the ice with a pass, or on the rush. Carrick competes with an edge, and he wins battles, despite his size.

The Bad: Carrick's decision making can still be a little off at times with his risk taking and positioning, although he has really improved in that area. His size on defense is a minor weakness as well.

Projection: He could be a second pairing defenseman.

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10. Tomas Kundratek, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 15th
Date of birth: 12/26/1989
Age: 23
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 192
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 49 GP, 16 G, 31 P (Hershey, AHL) / 25 GP, 1 G, 7 P (Washington-NHL)
Acquired: Trade from New York Rangers, drafted third round, 90th overall in 2008 by New York Rangers

Year in Review: Kundratek had a very good season in the AHL, and he earned a lot of NHL time, where he was below average.

The Good: Kundratek is an above-average skater, showing pretty good four-way mobility. He moves well enough to get to everywhere a defenseman needs to go. He makes smart plays at both ends with solid defensive awareness and enough offensive instincts to make good outlets and passes from the point. Kundratek has an average physical game and a good shot.

The Bad: Kundratek's pure upside is a question mark, as despite his high AHL scoring last year, he is likely an average to below-average offensive player in the NHL.

Projection: He could be a quality third pairing defenseman.

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The Next Five

11. Philipp Grubauer, Goaltender: Grubauer had an injury end his season early two years ago, but he seemed well last season, as he took notable steps forward. His athletic tools are intriguing.

12. Chandler Stephenson, Center: Stephenson is a small forward, but he is a pretty good skater and puck handler. He put up good numbers, especially considering he did not have a ton of offensive help.

13. Michael Latta, Center: Latta is a physical forward who can pitch in at both ends of the rink. One NHL source describes him as "abrasive."

14. Patrick Wey, Defense: Wey is a big, physical defensive defenseman. His skating and puck skills have improved, but those areas are not strengths.

15. Thomas DiPauli, Center: DiPauli is a very good skater who plays with grit. He is a good checking forward with a little offense in him.

The Sleeper: Zachary Sanford, Left Wing

Sanford is a prototypical sleeper, as he is a big, fast, skilled forward who is just very raw after playing in a low-level league.

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Washington Capitals Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2013 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Center
2. Marcus Johansson, Center
3. Dmitry Orlov, Defense
4. Andre Burakovsky, Left Wing
5. Madison Bowey, Defense
6. Riley Barber, Right Wing
7. Thomas Wilson, Right Wing
8. Nate Schmidt, Defense
9. Christian Djoos, Defense
10. Stanislav Galiev, Left Wing

Both Johansson and Orlov are tough players to read. Johansson is a very gifted skater, and while he is skilled, he may not have much in terms of standout elements to be more than a steady second line forward. Still, that makes a nice asset. Orlov was injured this year, and he could not regain his roster spot from 2011-12. He is a top-end skater with skill and a big shot, and he could be a top-four defenseman soon if he gets back on track.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (09/04)
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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (09/04)
Next Column >>
Top 10 Prospects 2013 (09/12)
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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (09/12)

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