Yesterday we took a look at the Capitals' goaltending and defense prospects, and today we turn our eyes to the organization's young forwards, a group whose strength is based more in the quantity than quality. That's not to say the Caps don't have some pretty skilled youngsters in the forward ranks, because they do. But while the blue line has guys like Karl Alzner and John Carlson and the future in goal looks to be either Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth, the forward corps lacks guys with high ceilings at the NHL level and doesn't have any blue-chips. Despite the uncertainty, there's not necessarily reason to be worried because while it's doubtful all of the Capitals forwards prospects (even the good ones) will become successful NHL players, it's also unlikely that at least a couple won't.
The prospects and their early season numbers, after the jump.
Jay Beagle (Center/Right Wing) - Much like last season, Beagle's plugging along and contributing in a checking role for the Bears. Beagle's NHL potential probably tops out at about a 13th or 14th forward, and the Caps won't be rushing him to the NHL any time soon, but he could get in a couple games if injuries necessitate a recall.
Francois Bouchard (Left Wing/Right Wing) - After a solid first professional season in 2008-09 (35 points; 15 goals in 64 games with the Bears), Bouchard's running at a point-per-game pace so far this season thanks to a late-October surge. Even more impressive is the fact that only one of Bouchard's point (an assist) has come with the man advantage. On the flip side, a large part of his production is due to his 27.8% shooting percentage - don't expect that to last.
Trevor Bruess (Left Wing) - He's getting playing time in Hershey, but aside of a fight with Binghamton's Paul Baier he hasn't done a whole lot.
Joel Broda (Center) - Obviously you can only discern so much about a guy who's still playing in juniors, but it's hard not to be encouraged by Broda's numbers. In 2008 the Capitals picked him in the fifth round, after a season where he recorded 31 goals and 53 points in 73 games with the Tri-City Americans and Moose Jaw Warriors; in the 2008-09 season Broda recorded 53 goals and 87 points in 67 games while splitting time between Moose Jaw and the Calgary Hitmen. While he's not scoring at the prodigious pace he was last season, Broda's again producing at better than a point-per-game.
Greg Burke (Left Wing) - Having his 2008-09 season cut short by a shoulder injury and playing in just eight games for the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, doesn't seem to have slowed Burke down too much: he's played in all seven of the University of New Hampshire's games this season.
Stefan Della Rovere (Left Wing) - Everybody's favorite NHL-pest-to-be is picking up right where he left off last season, dropping the gloves, adding some offense, and captaining one of the OHL's best teams - and that's all good news for a Capitals team that needs some more sandpaper in the lineup. Della Rovere's also been named to the OHL's Subway Super Series team, Canada's most prestigious sandwich-themed junior hockey tournament.
Phil DeSimone (Center) - An offensive force when he was drafted out of the USHL, DeSimone is still looking to fulfill his potential at the collegiate level, although he did increase his point total from 13 to 18 and his goal total from three to seven from his freshman to sophomore year.
Cody Eakin (Center) - Eakin's not a big guy (though he's a pretty tough one), but he is a terrific skater with good offensive instincts who also receives accolades for his two way play. Eakin's progressed nicely for the Swift Current Broncos in his WHL career, going from 17 points in 2007-08, to 48 points in 2008-09, to 23 through his team's first nineteen games of this season. Those might not sound like world-beating numbers, but consider this: 18 of Eakin's 2009-10 points are goals, a total that has him tied for the WHL lead. It's also telling that the Capitals have already inked Eakin to a professional contract, and there's a good chance he'll get a game or two in Hershey at the end of this season.
Joe Finley (Left Wing/Defense) - He's been playing defense in South Carolina (who list him as a defenseman), but the Capitals still list him as a forward, so we will too. At 22, Finley's a bit old for someone with NHL hopes to be plying his trade in the East Coast League, especially given that the experiment with moving him to wing appears to be on the back burner.
Andrew Gordon (Right Wing) - just two years ago the Capitals, unhappy with Gordon's performance in the AHL, briefly demoted him to South Carolina. Last year Gordon became an important piece of Hershey's Calder Cup team and got in a game in with the big club. This year Gordon's ascent has continued: he's averaging over a point a game, sports a plus-5 rating, and has only taken one penalty: a fight against Brian Lee. Gordon's probably never going to be a top six forward at the NHL level, but we'd sure like to see what he could do on a Caps energy line - the sooner, the better.
Anton Gustafsson (Center) - The Capitals couldn't find room for him to get playing time in Hershey and it didn't look like he'd be getting playing time in Sweden's highest league either, and a a result, the Caps wound up lending Gustafsson to Borås HC, a team in Sweden's second division. Gus is getting playing time there, and has picked up four assists and nine shots in four games, although is winning only 47% of his faceoffs.
Jake Hauswirth (Center/Right Wing) - one of the biggest surprises of 2008's prospects camp earned himself a contract this past summer. His transition to the pro game is going well and, although a call-up to the Capitals is in no way in the near future, Hauswirth could work his way up the ladder to Hershey later this season or in 2010-11.
Dmitri Kugryshev (Left Wing ) - In large part thanks to a shooting percentage that's only half of what it was last year, Kugryshev isn't scoring at the same rate he did in 2008-09, when he was Qubec's leading rookie scorer, and a 34 goal, 74 points campaign earned him the QMJHL Rookie of the Year award. That doesn't mean he's not putting up points, though, and the goals should come in time.
Marcus Johansson (Center/Left Wing) - this past summer's first round draft pick is playing for Farjestads, currently one of Sweden's best teams. Even better, he's leading the team in goals and scoring (which isn't too much of a surprise considering some of the moves he has), though a lot of that has to do with an undoubtedly temporarily high shooting percentage. He's playing center right now, but there's been talk that Johansson might move the wing when he comes to North American, something his -1 rating and 40% faceoff win rate are advocating.
Oskar Osala (Left Wing)- It took him until the seventh game of the season to record his first point, but since then Osala's come on strong, with five points in his last six games. You can never have too many big bodies up front (Osala goes 6'4'', 220) who can contribute on the score sheet, so here's hoping Osala keeps piling up the points and earns himself another trip to D.C..
Mathieu Perreault (Center) - Like Osala, he started off slow (no point in his first five games for Hershey), before coming on strong. Unlike Osala, Perreault's size (allegedly 5'10'', 174) will always be a concern. But if he plays with smarts, skill, and determination he did on Wednesday, something tells me the Caps will be able to live with it.
Kyle Wilson (Center) - after two solid offensive seasons in Hershey (a total of 58 goals and 61 assists), but no chance to come up and show what he can do in the NHL we're starting to wonder if and when he's going to get that opportunity.