The Washington Capitals Development Camp got underway Monday, with morning practices for the two groups of aspiring NHLers then a scrimmage in the afternoon, all overseen by new Caps coach Adam Oates, Hershey Bears head coach Mark French, and new affiliate Reading Royals head coach Larry Courville. Most folks were anxious to see the new draft picks, including first round picks Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson, or defenseman Cameron Schilling, who signed with the Caps in March, appeared in seven regular season games and the playoffs with Hershey, then mentioned by GM George McPhee earlier this month as a player that could see games in D.C. this season.
But the player that stood out to us today was free agent Greg Miller, who just completed his junior season at Cornell University. Miller led the Big Red in goals (14) assists (17) and points (31) in 35 games in his junior campaign on a team that went 19-9-7 overall and 12-4-6 in their conference, the ECAC and qualified for the NCAA tournament, eventually falling to Ferris state in the second round.
Miller stood out among his peers Monday, scoring a goal and utilizing his speed. He seemed to be around the puck whenever he was on the ice and had another quality scoring chance in the second half of the scrimmage.
We caught up with Miller after the scrimmage and asked him about adjusting to development camp, his style of play, and getting the call from Caps inviting him to development camp.
On his effort Monday: “I felt pretty good. I was trying to get my feet under me; kinda get used to the pace, my linemates and everything like that. I thought our line played awesome. Pauly [’12 draft pick Thomas Di Pauli] played great and so did Harry [free agent Brant Harris]. They made it easy for me.”
On his speed and skating ability: “We’ve been skating during the summer, a couple of guys from [Cornell] are going to camps so we skated together and got ready for it. Definitely improving my skating is something I’ve been trying to work on, so I’m just working hard throughout the summer and whenever I can to get better.”
On his junior year at Cornell: “We had a great year collectively last year. Myself, personally, I was fortunate enough to do very well, so that was good. We seemed to do well when we get pucks down low, work on their D and finding the open space which some guys here are doing pretty well. So I’m just going to try to work on my vision and my hands and everything like that; shooting, getting the puck off quicker, those types of things that I need to do to get better.”
On coming into camp as undrafted free agent: “You come in and don’t really know what to expect. All these other guys have been with the team before and you gotta come in and prove yourself — that you are worthy to be here and show them that you can play with them. I think these days — especially coming out of college — a lot of undrafted guys are being signed so it’s very encouraging. It gives us a lot of hope and pushes us to work harder.”
On getting invitation from the Caps: “Oh yeah, that was awesome. Oh my gosh, what an amazing feeling when I got the call [inviting him to camp]. I was so honored that I had the opportunity to come out with such a great organization and a great bunch of guys. It’s been amazing so far.
Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Capitals coverage on Twitter @CapitalsDSP.