October 21, 2014

Washington Capitals add blue line prospects in later rounds of NHL Draft

Connor Carrick

Selected by the Washington Capitals in the fifth round (137th overall), Connor Carrick is the second Chicagoan to be added to the Caps organization in the 2012 draft. He also became the third US National Development Team player to head to Washington. In fact, he shared a billet family home with Austin Wuthrich during their time as teammates.

The first defenseman selected by the team in this draft, Carrick considers himself a two-way defenseman. He is comfortable joining the rush, but is also responsible defensively. He scored 18 points in 53 games with the USA U-18 team last season, and played in the World Junior U-18 Championships. Committed to University of Michigan for next season, Carrick hopes to round himself into a more offensive force in the coming years with the Wolverines.

He’s already well on his way to becoming a productive player on the back end. He’s a tremendous skater, not only with speed but also good agility. Though he has the aim of being offensive-minded, he’s tough, and can dole out the physical punishment that comes with being an effective defenseman, as well as a key man on the power play. He needs a little help picking his plays in the offensive zone, but Michigan has a great system that will assist him with any problem areas in his game.

The Caps will definitely have to wait at least four years to get Carrick into their system. As Carrick put it to the media, “My mom would kill me if I don’t get a degree.”

Riley Barber

In the sixth round, the Capitals continued their trend of selecting from the US National Development Team, taking six-foot right wing Riley Barber with the 167th pick. Though Barber was selected by the Windsor Spitfires in the 2010 OHL draft, he is committed to University of Miami beginning this fall.

Barber, yet another two-way forward, placed third in scoring last year on Team USA, finishing the season with 36 points (21g, 15a) in 60 games. Barber also participated in the 2012 World Junior U-18 Championships, scoring three points in six games.

Barber is a natural goal scorer, but is also responsible defensively. Good on the forecheck, Barber also doesn’t mind crashing the net occasionally. “He has a natural ability to score goals and has great puck protection skills in the offensive zone,” says Miami head coach Enrico Blasi.

Blasi and the RedHawks system have churned out some big talent in the past few years, so Barber should be served well by the college hockey atmosphere.

Christian Djoos

Washington had three picks available in the seventh and final round of the draft, and with the 195th pick, the Capitals selected Swede Christian Djoos, currently playing in Sweden with Brynas U-20 (Nicklas Backstrom’s former club), scoring 24 points in 40 games last season. He also played with Team Sweden in the 2012 World Juniors U-18 Championships.

Son of Detroit Red Wings 1986 draft pick Per, Djoos is a versatile defenseman who is a good passer and a strong skater, a beneficial skill when it comes to protecting the puck. However, Djoos is far from NHL-ready.

Many balked at the pick when they saw the five-foot-eleven Djoos’ listed draft weight: 158 lbs. The 17-year-old obviously has some bulking up to do, but that shouldn’t be a problem once he reaches maturity. He needs some work on his game as well, mostly on the defensive end of things. But once he puts on the weight he needs, a stronger defensive game should come more naturally.

Jaynen Rissling

At the 197th pick, the Capitals selected yet another prospect with familial ties to the NHL. Defenseman Jaynen Rissling, the 197th selection of the draft, is the nephew of one-time Capital Gary Rissling.

Rissling is a massive 18-year-old — at 6’4″ and 223 lbs, he’s known as one of the most punishing players in the Western Hockey League. He can hit, he can fight, and surprisingly, he can skate, though his lateral mobility does need some work. He also can contribute offensively when needed by virtue of being a decent puck-mover — 18 of Rissling’s 23 points last season were helpers.

Sergei Kostenko

Of the three Russian goaltenders in this past winter’s World Junior Championships, only Andrei Makarov was left undrafted by the conclusion of the draft, and surprisingly so. With their final pick of the draft (203rd), the Capitals took Russia’s third-string goaltender in the tournament, Sergei Kostenko. But apparently, the Capitals were watching Kostenko long before World Juniors, and already had their minds set.

The Capitals may have first spotted Kostenko while scouting 2009 draft pick Dmitri Orlov — both players are from Novokuznetsk, Russia, and are products of the Metallurg Novokuznetsk organization. The two players remain friends — Kostenko was following the online draft ticker with Orlov when he learned that he had been drafted by Orlov’s team.

Kostenko got the most notice at last November’s Subway Super Series, considered a sort of pre-season tournament leading up to the World Juniors. In Russia’s opening game against the QMJHL team, Kostenko recorded a 42-save shutout.

Kostenko is a very athletic, competitive goaltender who has indicated that he would like to come over from Russia as soon as possible. He has one year left of junior eligibility in Russia, but may choose to come over to North America after the completion of next season.

Erika Schnure is a Contributor to District Sports Page, specializing in Washington Capitals prospects. She has been a hockey writer since 2010.

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