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31 in 31

Top prospects for Washington Capitals

Samsonov, Gersich could earn NHL roster spot this season

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the top five prospects for the Washington Capitals, according to


[Capitals 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]


1. Ilya Samsonov, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 22 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL): 26 GP, 12-9-1, 2.31 GAA, .926 SV%

When the 21-year-old makes his NHL debut will depend mostly on how quickly he is able to adapt to the North American game after playing in the Kontinental Hockey League the past three seasons.

Samsonov (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) is expected to begin the season with Hershey of the American Hockey League, and Capitals coach Todd Reirden said he expects Pheonix Copley to open the season as Washington's backup behind Braden Holtby, replacing Philipp Grubauer, who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on June 23. But Reirden also said Samsonov will have a chance to compete for the backup job in training camp. 

Projected NHL arrival: This season


2. Alexander Alexeyev, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 31 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

Last season: Red Deer (WHL): 45 GP, 7-30-37

With no room for the 18-year-old on the Capitals this season, Alexeyev (6-4, 196) is slated to return to Red Deer of the Western Hockey League for another season. The St. Petersburg, Russia native has played two seasons in the WHL, so adjusting to the North American game shouldn't be an issue whenever he's ready to turn pro.

Ranked ninth among North American defensemen by NHL Central Scouting heading into the 2018 NHL Draft, Alexeyev plays a two-way game similar to Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov.

Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21 season

Video: Capitals draft D Alexander Alexeyev No. 31


3. Shane Gersich, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 134 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Washington: 3 GP, 0-1-1; University of North Dakota (NCAA): 40 GP, 13-16-29

The 22-year-old left the University of North Dakota following his junior season to sign with the Capitals on March 23 and was with them throughout their Stanley Cup run, including playing in two Stanley Cup Playoff games. That experience should be helpful for Gersich (5-11, 175) when he competes for a roster spot in training camp.

He has the speed and scoring ability (21 goals in 40 games for North Dakota in 2016-17) to potentially play higher in the lineup, but the Chaska, Minnesota native initially might have to settle for a fourth-line role because of Washington's depth at forward.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: NJD@WSH: Kempny finds twine on slapper from the point 


4. Lucas Johansen, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 28 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Hershey (AHL): 74 GP, 6-21-27

With all seven Capitals defensemen from last season returning, there's no room for Johansen (6-2, 177) on the NHL roster, but he might get a look at some point as an injury replacement if he continues to develop his two-way game in the AHL. Johansen, who turns 21 on Nov. 16, made strides in his defensive play as a first-year pro with Hershey last season.

The younger brother of Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen has the potential to put up numbers offensively; he had 49 points (10 goals, 39 assists) in 69 games with Kelowna of the WHL in 2015-16.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season


5. Jonas Siegenthaler, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 57 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Hershey (AHL): 75 GP, 6-6-12

A stay-at-home defenseman, the 21-year-old native of Zurich had an issue with conditioning in 2016-17, but he addressed that, dropping 26 pounds following that season, and improved his stock within the organization with his play in Hershey last season. Like Johansen, Siegenthaler (6-3, 206) can be sent down without clearing waivers, so cracking the Capitals roster will be difficult.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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