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Rookie Camp Begins

The final 15 minutes of today's rookie camp looked like a scene out of the movie "Miracle", with Coach Bruce Boudreau playing Kurt Russell, relentlessly skating the youngsters up and down, up and down, up and down.

It wasn't meant as a punishment, though. Boudreau did it for a couple of reasons. First, he wanted to see who was in shape and who wasn't. (Karl Alzner, John Carlson passed Boudreau's test easily, while Mathieu Perreault, Anton Gustafsson and Dmitry Kugryshev, well, they were among the ones who wound up on their backs.) Secondly, Boudreau wanted to make sure that when the grueling skate was over, each of the prospects had a clear understanding of what it takes to make it in the Big Leagues.

"In the end, it was very tough for the guys," Kugryshev said through interpreter Slava Malamud, a sports writer for Russia's Sport Express. "What this training session did for me is show that I need to be 150-percent ready, not 100-precent."

Kugryshev will suit up for the Quebec Remparts (Patrick Roy's QMJHL team) this season.

Here are a few other notes/observations from the opening day of rookie camp:

*In drills, the line of Oskar Osala, Perreault and Francois Bouchard was dominant. But considering their level of experience compared to some of the other participants, that wasn't much of a surprise.

*Simeon Varlamov, despite breaking in all new pads (even skates), also was impressive. In the coming weeks, the Caps are going to have a tough decision facing them when it comes to their prospects in goal. They've got three of them - Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth and Daren Machesney. But only two are going to play in Hershey, meaning one will likely get loaned out. GM George McPhee said that sending one of them to South Carolina (ECHL) is not an option because "they are all above that level."

"It's not ideal," McPhee said. "But it's a good problem to have, to have three good goalies. It will work out. People always get banged up, get hurt. We'll make sure that they all get ice time."

When asked if he might consider returning Russia if it looks like he'll be in Hershey all season, Varlamov scoffed at the notion, saying he is committed to playing in North America this season.

"My goal is to make the NHL roster," Varlamov said through Malamud. "I'm looking at the AHL as Plan B right now. But I do realize that there it is most likely that I will start in the AHL, primarily because I'm not used to the [larger] ice surface over here yet. I need to get accustomed to the North American game."

Based on what I've seen and what I'm hearing, it looks like Varlamov could stake claim to the No. 3 goalie job in the organization (Machesney will have something to say about that, however) and could get a call-up if either Jose Theodore or Brent Johnson goes down with an injury.

*When Gustafsson was drafted, there was some concern about his injured back. The injury actually caused him to miss the summer development camp, and it's still not 100-percent. McPhee said the team's medical staff remains confident that the herniated disc in his lower back will heal in its own time and that Gustafsson will be fine.

"I hope it will be [100-percent] by the end of the season," Gustafsson said."The doctor said it will take about two years before it's good. But it's been pretty fast."

Gustafsson said the suicides at the end of practice didn't help his back, but he'll be okay for the rest of camp. He also said that he's missing time with his team in Sweden to come to this camp and that he plans to spend at least two more years in his homeland before coming to North America.

*Alex Ovechkin is spending a lot of time with the Russian youngsters--Viktor Dovgan, Kugryshev and Varlamov--as a way of helping them adjust to North America. Ovechkin said he has hosted them at his house for meals and today took them to the Mystics game at Verizon Center.

"I'm big daddy," Ovechkin joked, adding that his mom, Tatiana, is cooking for them all.

*Also, I won't be writing much for the paper until the main camp starts on Saturday. So make sure to check back here for daily updates from rookie camp.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  September 14, 2008; 2:59 PM ET
 
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Next: Ovechkin Skating With Rookies (Updated)

Comments

Awesome report, Tarik

Thanks!

Posted by: RIT | September 14, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the detailed report for those of use who opted to watch the Redskins instead (grrr). Would have liked to watch the rookies skating suicides.

Tarik, were you at all surprised that the Sport Express already has a reporter in town, or do they just go wherever Ovie goes?

Big Daddy Ovechkin has a nice ring to it. Those guys must be loving it hanging out with him!

Posted by: Jill | September 14, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Tarik.

Posted by: sidehillman | September 14, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

That was a very long practice today, kind of a clue when they reusrface the ice in the middle of practice. I had the feeling today that Varlamov should hang around to see if JT implodes again this season. I'll be very interested to see how he looks next week when the big boys come to town, but that glove hand is amazing!!! I hope DM ends up the odd man out in this,because MN did not look all that far behind Varlamov, so if someone gets loaned out, I'd like to see it be DM. I have hopes that in a couple of years we are in the position the Ducks were in last year with 2 great goalies. But lets get something for the one we let go!

Posted by: Bob | September 14, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

And nobody even mentioned Greenie is in the house... sob sob

Posted by: Mr. Green | September 14, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

The redskinettes were easy today riding the emotion of the skins thrilling come from behind win

Posted by: mike green | September 14, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

From another blog
"There were six guys who went on the ice after the rookies were done, including Mike Green, Tomas Fleischmann and Chris Bourque. The other three were Jakub Cutta, Tom Maxwell and Boudreau's son, Ben, who has signed with Flint in the IHL for this coming season."
Isn't that sweet, Greenie has shown his face in DC.

Posted by: Bob | September 14, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Gustaffson to stay at least 2 more years in Europe....lol...great pick .........what desire to make the show...glad we moved up to get his gung ho outlook

Posted by: wendel | September 14, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Jill,
Malamud lives in Washington, DC. At least it is in his blog:

Место проживания:
Вашингтон США Северная Америка

http://blog.sport-express.ru/users/malamud/profile/

And SovSport reporter also lives in DC.

A while ago Kukla's Korner had an ad from SovSport. They were looking for reporters and the requirement was to live in the same city as NHL team you'll report about. So a lot of them have their daily jobs, and write part-time. Malamud is pro sports writer though ...

Posted by: about Malamud | September 14, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see that Alzner is in great shape already, not like two of the Skins first two picks. Also happy to see another young blueliner in great shape -- Carlson, who is uber young! I definitely like the wealth in aspiring goalies. I'd like to see Varmy, Cheesy, or even Neuy challenge BJ for the second spot by the end of the season.

Posted by: JIM | September 14, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I say we go with Varlamov as starter in DC if he's as good as people keep saying. waive Brent Johnson and voila, problem solved.

Posted by: Sapper | September 14, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Might want to wait until Varlamov faces better talent next week to access his status as an NHL goalie. Plus so far BJ has shown a consistant ability to be a good backup, JT has not shown any consistancy to even stay in the league, sure you want to get rid of BJ?

Posted by: Bob | September 14, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

OK, Varlamov looks impressive in Rookie Camp, but goalies take a MUCH longer time to develop in the juniors/minors. You can't rush a goalie up to the NHL or it could be disastrous for the goalie and the organization.

Posted by: Dr CapsFan | September 14, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Great news on our prized prospects. Lets let him develop, and get accustomed to the North American game/culture before we throw him into the a fire. JT is MORE than capabable to handle it.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | September 14, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I'll wait to count the JT chicken until after it hatches. People and teams have counted on him before and been bitterly disappointed, but I am certainly hopeful. I think he was better than Huet last year and could easily be better this year, but he has also shown he can be a disaster.

Posted by: Bob | September 14, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I think everyone has been saying Gustafsson would remain in Sweden for two years since he was drafted.

Backstrom remained for a season and was a top 5 pick rather than near the end of the first round.

This kid would be playing a full two years of Junior if he were Canadian.

Posted by: Rob | September 14, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

AnGus is going exactly the route the Caps thought, which is a year of Swedish Juniors & then a year at the more advanced Swedish league. He'll definitely challenge for a roster spot in 2010/2011.

Posted by: Doug | September 14, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Dude, those skating drills were BRUTAL but really great to watch.

Posted by: IrresistibleForce | September 14, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Getting rid of JT or BJ would be a HUGE mistake. I am on the fence about JT, he could be great or he could be horrific...we at least owe him the chance to prove to us what hes got. And BJ last year looked like he might just have what it takes to be a starter, and if not he is still a solid backup.

Give Varlamov at least a year in Hershey to perfect his game gaining experience and lots of playtime and let him get use to the smaller rink. If JT can't get it done give BJ the starting job and if he struggles then maybe you bring Varlamov up to give him a taste of the real deal and see how he does.

Overall our goalie situation is pretty dam good, we have 2 solid veterans in JT and BJ and 2 or 3 young guys that have a bright future ahead of them, lets take it slow and let our veterans do their job until they prove they can't do their job before resort to starting a 20 year old with no NHL experience.

Posted by: Troy | September 14, 2008 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Tarik..

That's a terrific report.. thanks a lot.

Oneal

Posted by: Oneal | September 15, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Yo Troy

Well said!

Posted by: Bob | September 15, 2008 7:04 AM | Report abuse

GET EM BRUCE!!!

Posted by: MetalCap | September 15, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Tarik.

I need to get to the rink this week.

Posted by: Jordan | September 15, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Awesome report Tarik!

I'm glad to see they're going to loan out somebody. I agree with GMGM that having one of those three start in the ECHL would be a step backwards. My guess is Michal Neuvirth will be the one that gets loaned out.

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | September 15, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Yo Sombrero,

How would one "loan" a goalie out? Can you give me an example?

Posted by: 94 | September 15, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@94 - I don't know how the contract issues are worked out, as in who is responsible for paying salary, whether the player is loaned for an entire season or can be recalled if needed, but its my understanding that if one team has two number one goalies (or three) and they feel it is better for that goalie's development to get top netminder minutes rather than be part of a platoon, they loan the player to a club without a number one goalie. The team owning the rights of the goalie "wins" because now they have 2 players getting top minutes and experience, and the team recieving the goalie "wins" because they are more competitive which helps keep their fowards and D hungry and AHL fans happy.

If the Caps go loan out Neuvirth and something happens to J.T. or B.J., which prompts the Caps to call up Varlamov or McChesney, I don't know if the caps can reclaim Neuvirth or if the loan is for a full season.


Posted by: Sombrero Guy | September 15, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Did a quick google search and found this example

http://puckstopshere.blogspot.com/2005/03/integrity-in-ahl.html

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | September 15, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Yo

Posted by: Yo | September 15, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

YoYo

Posted by: NoYo | September 15, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Nolan Schaefer, goalie, was in and out of the Bears org. a couple years ago (2006-2007). He belonged to San Jose, and their farm team (Worchester Sharks)loaned him to the Bears. He played 3 games for them. But when SJ needed a back-up when they came to DC, he was recalled and sat on the bench at the VC. He finished the season with the Pens (W-B/S)organization, through trade I think.

Posted by: Zaichik | September 15, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

>


Malamud been living in DC for years , by the way he is a Buffalo fan :(

Posted by: KGB | September 15, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

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