Life after Olie and other Caps News
Goalie Simeon Varlomov stopped some incredible shots and made some great moves in Saturday's scrimmage during the Capital's development camp which was held last week at Kettler Ice Arena. So, is there life after Olie the Goalie for the Caps? I want Olie to be here as long as possible, but I'd love to have Varlomov here next year getting mentored by Olie. Varlomov, a Caps 1st round pick in 2006, ended the year in Russia's top professional league with a 15-7-6 record and a 2.12 GAA.
Blueliner Karl Alzner, the Caps #1 pick in this year's draft and mentioned as the most NHL ready draftee by many hockey analysts, made some smart defensive plays and played some aggressive hockey on Saturday, too. Is he NHL ready? I don't think we'll know until we see him play with the team.
Of course, Center Nicklas Backstrom was also in town for development camp. And, to read the fan boards, you'd think the player who has been compared to Peter Forsberg while playing in the Swedish Elite League for the past 2-years should go back to Sweden. (Okay, the fans seem to be split between "send him back" and "give him a break".) My opinion, give him a huge break. Let's not forget that Backstrom is a Capital, not a prospect and he was playing with a lot of prospects who will never play in the NHL. I thought his setup skills, blind passes and ice reading skills were all on display and I believe he's going to be a very good hockey player. Before we decide to send him back to Sweden, let's see how he plays with the team.
Fan board update - okay I fell hook, line and sinker for some tipsy Caps fans that apparently decided after some beers to stir up the fan boards with two threads "Backstrom isn't ready for the NHL" and "Backstrom is ready for the NHL." I'm pretty sure I saw this group of fans at the Rock Bottom Brewery post scrimmage. You definitely got me!!
Other signings...so the Caps now have Michael Nylander back in Washington for his second stint. He's 34 which stinks, but he had an incredible year last year and if Backstrom is the real deal, Nylander (another Swede) can help to mentor him and give him English lessons. Nylander offered in exchange for baby sitting his 6 kids according to this Washington Post article. Nylander had a spectacular year last year with the Rangers so here's hoping there is some good chemistry between him & Ovie.
For defensive help, the Capitals signed blueliner Tom Poti from the NY Islanders. He's a 10-year veteran that racked up 44 points last year, made an apperance in the 2003 all star game and has represented the US in the 2002 Olympics. Another former Islander, Viktor Kozlov, also became a Capital. He plays center/right wing and amassed 51 points last year, his 4th 50-point season and ended the season a +12.
So.....is it hockey season yet?
Let's go Caps!