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Vrana, Bowey among Capitals' top five prospects

by Katie Brown /

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals bulked up their prospect pool by selecting goaltender Ilya Samsonov in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft, a surprising move considering how deep they are at the position.

Several prospects, notably Jakub Vrana and Madison Bowey, will play for Hershey of the American Hockey League this season, on what could be the youngest Bears team in 10 years.

Young talent in the AHL means the Capitals will have options for recalls.

Here is a look at the Capitals' top five prospects, according to

1. Jakub Vrana, RW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 13), 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Hershey, AHL: 3 GP, 0-5-5; Linköpings HC, Swedish Hockey League: 44 GP, 12-12-24

Vrana, 19, scored six points (two goals) in 10 Calder Cup games with Hershey after his season in Sweden and represented the Czech Republic at the 2015 World Junior Championship, scoring two goals with an assist in five games.

Vrana (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) is known for his skating and goal-scoring.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

2. Madison Bowey, D

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 53), 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Kelowna, WHL: 58 GP, 17-43-60

Bowey, 20, has been compared to Capitals defenseman John Carlson, and they are hoping he turns out to be that type of player. A right-handed shot, Bowey is the next generation of offensively skilled defensemen drafted by Washington.

"The American league is not an easy league and he's going to have his challenges, no doubt about it," Hershey coach Troy Mann said. "But if we're patient with him and we work with him all year, is he recallable? We'll see."

The captain for Kelowna, which won the Western Hockey League championship, and the league leader among defensemen in playoff points (19), Bowey (6-foot-1, 195), is mirroring Carlson's career path.

"I think overall it was a pretty good season," Bowey said. "Obviously, I got a lot accomplished and I was fortunate enough to play on some great teams and over Christmastime with (Canada's) World Junior team (one goal, three assists, plus-8 in seven games), and also back with my home club Kelowna Rockets. I think it prepared me well for this next step and this year coming up."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

3. Stanislav Galiev, RW

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 86), 2010 NHL Draft

Last season: Capitals: 2 GP, 1-0-1; Hershey, AHL: 67 GP, 25-20-45

After scoring a career-high 25 goals for Hershey last season, Galiev, 23, signed a two-year, $1.15 million contract July 1. He played two NHL games in 2014-15 and is expected to make the Capitals roster out of training camp.

The 6-foot-1, 187-pound forward is known for his scoring ability and puck-handling skills. He impressed coaches with his improvement over the past year and would likely fit in as the Capitals' fourth-line right wing.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

4. Connor Carrick, D

How acquired: 5th round (No. 137), 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Hershey, AHL: 73 GP, 8-34-42

Carrick, a right-shot defenseman, played 34 NHL games in 2013-14 but wasn't quite ready. After spending last season with Hershey, Carrick (5-foot-11, 185) looks better prepared to play NHL minutes.

The 21-year-old will be among several defensemen competing for an NHL roster spot at training camp, and if he doesn't win one, he will be at the top of the list for recalls from Hershey.

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

5. Ilya Samsonov, G

How acquired: 1st round (No. 22), 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Stalnye Lisy, MHL: 18 GP, 2.66 GAA, .908 SV%

Samsonov is expected to be a backup for Metallurg in the Kontinental Hockey League after a successful junior season with Stalyne Lisy. There's no rush to bring him to North America; the Capitals have enough goaltending depth to allow the 18-year-old to play out his contract in Russia.

"I know that he's a talented goalie," Capitals goaltending coach Mitch Korn said. "I know that anybody at [age 18], to get a chance to play in the KHL, which he's done and is going to do, makes him special."

Ranked the top European goaltender by NHL Central Scouting, Samsonov (6-foot-3, 200) is known for his imposing size, puck-tracking skill and quick reflexes.

"He's an ominous body, and for a big man he moves exceptionally well," Korn said. "And there's a thing that we call goalie sense. It's not where the puck is, it's where the puck's going, and the guys that are really good know where the puck's going. He seems to know where the puck's going."

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

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