Thursday, January 15, 2009

Capitals ECHL Update

Hockey's Future has put out another Capitals-oriented article, updating the performances of a handful of Capitals prospects playing for the South Carolina Stingrays. In the article, Holly Gunning takes a look at Travis Morin, Sasha Pokulok, Viktor Dovgan, Josh Godfrey, and goalie Michal Neuvirth.

"Progress" seems to be the main theme as these players are thriving in the ECHL, just to get promoted to minimal minutes if any at the AHL level. Here is an excerpt from the Morin segment:
Is there anything holding him back from playing in the AHL?

"The only thing I can think of at this point is how deep Hershey is and how deep Washington is,” Bednar said. “Obviously Hershey's No. 1 in the American Hockey League, and they signed a lot of guys. [Morin]'s a guy who's very consistent for us. From day 1 last year on, I maybe remember a handful of games where he wasn't noticeably one of the best players on the ice and he's the same way again this year. He got out to a little bit of a slow start numbers-wise, but now he's climbing in the league standings. He's very patient, sees the ice well, just does everything really well.

"I don't know why he isn't playing at that level,” Bednar continued. “I don't see him play at that level when he goes up, so I don't know what he's not doing there. But they're deep at center in Hershey and he just hasn't gotten an opportunity, whether it's with Washington...I've got to think if he keeps doing what he's doing, he's going to get a chance with Washington or Hershey next year or if he moves on to another organization. I'll certainly be the first to promote him because he's very good at what he does."

And the just-turned 25-year-old isn’t just good offensively. He’s hard on the forecheck, hassles opponents for the puck, and plays tight defense down low. Not to mention he’s a good locker room guy. If the 6’2 195-pound Morin wasn't under contract by Washington, he would have been snapped up by an AHL team a long time ago.

Neuvirth is also feeling the effects of the log jam of goalies at Hershey (and even Washington):
Bednar said he sees NHL potential in all the players that Washington sent down, but Neuvirth may be on the quickest track to get there.

"Just from listening to the Washington guys talk, they know what he can do. They talk about him and [Simeon] Varlamov very similarly and Varlamov is playing in the NHL up and down with Hershey. [Neuvirth]'s been great for us and it's just a matter of time to move up the ladder."

You can read the whole article here.

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