Washington Capitals: Which Prospect Will Have Impact At NHL Level First?

Eric Hartline – USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals made a bold move at the trade deadline this year, sending top prospect Filip Forsberg to the Nashville Predators for veteran winger Martin Erat. So far, the trade has not worked out in their favor as Erat was able to contribute little down the stretch and in the postseason. Forsberg was the Capitals first round draft pick (11th overall) and now that he’s gone, the time has come to take a look at who the top prospects left in their system are.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made quite a rise on the depth chart this season, starting the season in the ECHL, making the jump to the AHL and eventually getting his first start for the Capitals. He was 15-9-2 in the AHL with the Hershey Bears during the regular season but struggled in the playoffs. He’s definitely one of the top players in the pipeline, and after a couple more seasons in Hershey he could be ready to back up Braden Holtby.

Winger Tom Wilson also made a jump in the organization this season, thanks to a strong season with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. He has great size at forward (6-4, 210), and his stat line this season (23 goals, 58 points, 104 penalty minutes in 48 games with Plymouth) shows the kind of impact he can have. The Capitals were able to get him in the lineup for three playoff games, and he has a good chance to compete for a roster spot in training camp next season or be one of Hershey’s top players and a frequent call-up.

The Capitals are a bit thin on defense, especially now that Steven Oleksy and Tomas Kundratek have gotten a solid taste of life in the NHL. Cameron Schilling would appear to be next in line, as the former Miami University (Ohio) standout had seven goals and 16 points for the Bears in his first professional season. A case can be made for any of these three players, but Wilson seems to have the best chance of cracking the lineup, and at 19 years old he’s just getting started.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL senior writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.

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