The most critical piece of the past week’s rookie camp took place yesterday in the form of a final scrimmage. While both squads were evenly matched skill-wise, the white team was offensively gifted while the blue side was defensively top-heavy.
Throughout the week, I’ve made it clear that my favorite defenseman to watch was Dmitri Orlov. The six-foot, 197-pound rear-guard was effective in all three zones, made timely efforts defensively, and pinched down low in the offensive zone while recovering well.
He is a future Washington Capital.
“I want to stay here,” he said through translator and fellow rookie camper Dmitri Kugryshev, even if it means going to Hershey for some time.
Another player that was brought to my attention was Trevor Bruess (pronounced Briss), whose sister was part of our live blog of the final scrimmage. The Minnesota native was playing the role of agitator for his team this week.
“I like to square up,” Bruess said of his scrappy style, “I play with an edge and I will be an agitator.”
Bruess is also looking forward to the main roster where he hopes his tenacious style will land him some future consideration for the role of a skilled roughouser.
“I’m really excited about that. I haven’t met [the main roster] yet and I met the guys in Hershey but main camp is gonna be bigger, faster, stronger guys and I’ve got to prepare myself a lot for that.”
Bruess is going home to relax as he trained very hard for this camp. He said he will prepare himself even more for the main camp in two months. Players like Bruess who went undrafted were delicately chosen to come to this camp, according to Caps coach Bruce Boudreau.
“Every one of these guys, even the draft picks, they’re all hand-picked to come here,” Boudreau said, “We’re just not saying ‘Hey we need a player, come out here;’ our scouts have thought that these guys, the free agents, are guys that might have slipped through the cracks.”
Anton Gustafsson, the 24th overall selection in the 2008 NHL draft, was banged up again in a scirmish in front of the net on Thursday that forced him out of Saturday’s final tilt. Pressed on where this camp leaves Goose, who some folks are now calling Bustafsson, Boudreau was defensive of former Cap Bengt Ake’s son.
“[It's] nothing,” the coach said, “He’s an unknown right now, so I mean we’ll wait until September; and he’s a signed first round guy that everybody says is a good player so we’ll go with that.”
Boudreau is a fan of Mathieu Perreault. Surprise! Surprise!
“Yeah, I like watching him. [He's a] small player, I was a small player,” Boudreau said, “You know, he’s got a lot of speed and a lot of determination; and you always want to see the small players succeed.”
Funniest line of the day came from none other than Gabby, when asked about the nutrition of players throughout the season and camps like this one.
“You’re really asking the wrong guy about that,” Boudreau cracked.
Joe Finley was a nice addition to the forwards for his team. The towering Minnesotan is a defenseman but swapped positions to “put the defenseman’s nose in the glass for once,” as he put it.
Asked if it was in his future to play left wing and if he’d had a conversation with the coach about it, Finley said, “I’ll play goalie if coach wants me to.”
Clearly, Finley, the Caps’ 2005 first round selection, is very anxious to make the squad in the near future.
The conclusion of my post-rookie camp assessment is a three star selection for the week: 1. Mathieu Perreault, 2. Dmitri Orlov, 3. Michael Dubuc.