Last Saturday, the Capitals signed a pair of NCAA college players, defenseman Jamie Hunt and forward Matt Stefanishion, to NHL contracts. On Wednesday Capitals general manager George McPhee fielded a few of our questions about these two players and their future with the Capitals.
Caps.com: Give me an idea of how these guys showed up on your radar if you can.
George McPhee: Well, we’ve always asked our amateur staff to keep an eye on players who haven’t been drafted. There have been some players in the past that they thought might have a chance to play, but they weren’t that high on them. This year, they identified a few players that they liked and these two in particular they are really high on. They believe they both have a pretty good chance to play. So we got aggressive and made it happen.
Caps.com: Tell me about Jamie Hunt. Is he a defenseman who is tailored to the new NHL?
GM: He is evidently a real skilled defenseman. He skates well, moves the puck well and has a big shot. We watched him in practice today and he is all of those things. He does skate very well, he does move the puck well and the puck comes off his stick nicely. Certainly the talent is there. We’d like to get him in some game situations and see how he responds.
Caps.com: Is Stefanishion healthy right now?
GM: He is not. He had wrist surgery about three or four weeks ago, which is probably one of the reasons we have him now. They were thinking of waiting until July in terms of talking to some teams, but we were high enough on him that we were willing to take the risk and sign him now and avoid the auction that might have taken place for him in July. He’s a big kid, weighs about 235, has a little bit of an edge to him, and has some good hands. If we can train him properly and develop him properly, we think he has got a good chance to play.
Caps.com: What is the short-term plan for these guys?
GM: What we want them to do basically is to work with Jack Blatherwick and learn how to train properly. Most kids coming our of junior and college think they know how to work out but they really don’t compared to how the pros work out. We thought it would be a great environment to bring them into for the next three weeks and have them start training the way we need them to train. Stefanishion will not play, obviously. Hunt could play if he gets enough practices under his belt and there is a need. There are no guarantees.
Caps.com: My understanding is that these guys are not eligible to play at Hershey.
GM: No, they’re not because they signed an NHL contract for this season and they were signed after the trading deadline. In order for them to play for Hershey they would have had to be assigned to Hershey before the trading deadline.