A quick glance at the calendar tells us it's September again, and with Labor Day in the rear view, there is some significant stirring going on once again in the ice rinks around the globe. The Caps will open training camp in Arlington on Sept. 13, and they'll start their six-game exhibition slate three nights later when the Chicago Blackhawks visit Capital One Arena for the first of those dress rehearsals. Opening night of the 2019-20 NHL season is less than a month away; the Caps face the Blues in St. Louis on Oct. 2 in the first of 82 regular season contests.
In the meantime, a group of two dozen young Caps hopefuls is headed to Nashville this week for the annual Prospects Showcase tournament. With the addition of the Carolina Hurricanes, the Showcase is once again a four-team tourney after a couple of years with just a trio of teams. The four teams will play a round-robin slate of games and each team will have the opportunity to conduct a pair of practices as well. Along with the Hurricanes, the Caps and the host Predators, the Tampa Bay Lightning rounds out the quartet of teams participating in the Showcase.
The tournament is for skaters and goaltenders on entry-level contracts (or less), aged 24 or younger, and with 20 or fewer games of NHL experience. Exceptions can be made with the prior approval of each of the other teams in the tourney. Teams will dress two goalies and 18 skaters, a five-minute 3-on-3 overtime period will be played in the event of a tie, and every game will be followed by a shootout - five players per team - regardless of the score. Players are permitted one fight in the tourney; a second fighting major will disqualify the player for the remainder of the tournament.
For a trio of Caps draftees in 2019, the Prospects Showcase tournament will mark the first time they pull on a Washington sweater to face-off against players from another NHL organization. First-round forward Connor McMichael (25th overall), second-round forward Brett Leason (56th overall) and third-round forward Aliaksei Protas (91st overall) are among 18 recent Washington draft choices who are slated to play at the Showcase. The Caps' total of drafted players is higher than that of any of the other three participants. Tampa Bay's preliminary roster shows 14 Lightning-drafted players while the Nashville and Carolina rosters show nine and seven such players, respectively.
Hershey head coach Spencer Carbery and his Bears coaching staff of assistant coaches Patrick Wellar and Scott Allen, video coach Jared Elenberger and goalie coach Alex Westlund will run the Washington bench. In his first season as the Bears' bench boss, Carbery helped lead the Bears to a 43-25-0-8 finish in 2018-19. The Bears advanced to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs before falling to Charlotte - the eventual Calder Cup champs - in the second round.
Carbery, Wellar and Westlund coached the Caps' tournament team at last fall's Prospect Showcase tourney in Estero, Fla. Fifteen or more of the Capitals' two dozen tourney participants are likely to play professionally this season, and they are expected to comprise much of the '19-20 Bears team.
Washington's prospects will practice on Friday and Monday, and the Caps' game schedule is as follows:
Sat. Sept. 7 - vs. Carolina, 1 p.m.
Sun. Sept. 8 - vs. Nashville, 1 p.m.
Tue. Sept. 10 - vs. Tampa Bay, 10 a.m.
Each game will be live streamed through predators.nhl.com, and Capitals' games will be broadcasted on Caps Radio 24/7. The Capitals will also hold practice on Sept. 6 and 9, both at 11 a.m. All tournament games and practices will be held at Ford Ice Center in Antioch, TN.