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New Faces Take the Stage at Training Camp

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Plenty of fresh talent is taking the ice for 2019 Washington Capitals training camp this week - and hoping to win an NHL job.

MedStar Capitals Iceplex
Jason Rogers

The Washington Capitals 2019 Training Camp is officially underway at MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia! The sultry doldrums of summer are nearly over, and the sounds of NHL hockey are back in the nation’s capital.

With so many new faces at the rink- and an icy tabula rasa of a new season ahead, here’s what you need to know as the Caps get back in action!

Defense

After undergoing a surgery for compartment syndrome that cut his season short (and hampered his explosiveness upon return), defenseman Christian Djoos is ready to re-claim his spot on Washington’s blue line.

Capitals GM Brian MacLellan put it more explicitly: the team is “looking for a rebound season” from the diminutive Swede, whose excellent puck movement and skating were always his biggest assets.

But competing for his spot are several new faces, including Jonas Siegenthaler, who performed capably (if unspectacularly) in Djoos’ absence last season, single-handedly rendering fellow defenseman Madison Bowey obsolete. Also new to Capitals is ex-Flyers brute Radko Gudas, known for his toughness and....ahem....blue-collar grit, let’s say.

But that sound you hear? That’s the rebirth of Washington’s once-great defensive pipeline, now chock-full to the gills with young talent. First-round pick Alex Alexeyev was injured in a recent prospects game, and is currently under the watchful gaze of the concussion protocol. But Slovak wunderkind Martin Fehervary has impressed the staff so far, and both MacLellan and Capitals head coach Todd Reirden singled out the young defenseman for kudos at the microphone.

Martin Fehervary
Jason Rogers

“I always need to be fast. I’m trying to doing my best to be more competitive and battle those guys and be more strong like in the battles,” Fehervary said. “It’s a little different playing against mens.”

Also competing to get back into an NHL jersey is defenseman Tyler Lewington, a very tough customer who played in two games for Washington last season. Lewington understands his strengths, and is hoping to use them to beat the competition - literally.

I asked Lewington about that drill. He told me Eller was totally fine and didn’t even seem to mind, and that he’s trying to find the balance he needs to in order to make the big team.

“There’s a fine line. You don’t want to run around being dirty. But it’s something where if I can finish my hits, I have to show [the coaches] that,” Lewington said.

Tyler Lewington
Jason Rogers

Goalie

Death, taxes, and Braden Holtby.

That’s what consistency looks like for the Capitals, and perhaps the only certainty on the entire roster is that Holtby will be the starter in net come October.

Behind him, Pheonix Copley signed a three-year, $3.3 million extension last season that will keep in in Washington through the 2021-22 season.

Pheonix Copley
Jason Rogers

So that’s that for Capitals goalies, right?

Well......not quite. Also in training camp this year is Russian netminder and Capitals first-round draft pick Ilya Samsonov (22nd overall). The first goalie selected by the Capitals in the first round since Semyon Varlamov in 2006 (23rd overall), and the highest-drafted Washington goalie since Olaf Kolzig in 1989 (16th overall), it is fair to say that Samsonov is the heir apparent in Washington, the veritable goalie dauphin.

Speaking to the media apologetically via a translator (Capitals PR boss Sergey Kocharov) even though his English was quite good, Samsonov said that whether he spends the season in Hershey or Washington, his goal is to prepare every day like a professional, and seize whatever opportunity is given to him.

He also said he plans to learn enough English to not need a translator.

“I must. This is my job,” Samsonov said.

Ilya Samsonov
Jason Rogers

Offense

We’ll have your training camp report on the Capitals offense a bit later this week!