With the pressure of making a good impression and starting the camp off on the right foot largely past the Washington Capitals prospects, the quality of play at Development Camp was expected to increase, and the players duly delivered.
After splitting into two groups this morning, the position players doing timed skates on Kettler's second rink and the goaltenders working with Adam Oates on the Capitals rink, the Washington Capitals prospects and Free Agent invites reconvened in front of fans at 2:45 for the Camp's second scrimmage.
Brooks Ostergard and Steffen Søberg held shutouts for the Red and White Teams, respectively, and halfway through the 60-minute, running-clock game, the score was tied 0-0. That said, shortly after the halfway mark, FA invite David Vallorani broke the deadlock, converting on a 3-on-2 slapshot after a feed from fellow invitee Matt Bailey. That score would hold until the last minute, when Aaron Gens one-timed a TJ Syner drop-pass past Brandon Anderson for a 2-0 Red lead. Australia's favourite Nathan Walker spoiled Scott Darling's shutout with a snapshot with just 4.7 seconds remaining, but it wouldn't be enough.
A day after losing the opening game 3-1, Team Red triumphed over Team White by a score of 2-1.
Here is a breakdown of those that impressed on Development Camp's second day...
Connor Carrick - D - Plymouth Whalers-bound USNTDP defenseman Connor Carrick was drafted as an offensive player, but today, the 5'11" defenseman put his more defensive and physical sides forward. One shift in particular stands out. Carrick started off by nearly dumping Brant Harris into the bench, then went on to destroy 6'4"-er Tom Wilson at center ice, before forcing a Scott Darling save after a nifty move around an opposition defenseman. The 5th-rounder has two more years of junior eligibility with which to impress the Caps' brass, but if today is any indication, there is no reason to believe he won't.
Christian Djoos - D - A day after disappointing in the scrimmage, Christian Djoos put all the qualities that made the Caps want to draft him in the 7th-round on full display. He blocked several shots, was composed with the puck, and even used his 5'11", 158-pound frame to knock Tom Wilson to the ice once. He put up 24 points in 40 games for Brynäs Jr in the SuperElitserien last season, and should get more time with the adult team this year. The Swedish blueliner is one to watch.
Steffen Søberg - G - At this point, there is little doubt over who the best goaltender at Development Camp is. After impressing a summer ago with his raw talent and athleticism, Steffen Søberg has come back better. He made some big saves today, most memorably a point black stop of Gregory Miller, en route to a well-deserved shutout. He will be joining Vålerenga of the Norwegian GET-Ligaen next summer, and if he performs, could be in line for a move to North America in 2012-13.
David Vallorani - C - Free Agent invites are meant to be complements at Development Camp, not stars. Vallorani shone today. After dominating the speed trials, Vallorani was one of the real bright spots of the scrimmage, hitting the crossbar once on a coast-to-coast give-and-go play with Stanislav Galiev and scoring the opening goal. A senior with UMass-Lowell last season, the center is looking for a pro contract, and if he keeps impressing, could earn it with the Capitals organization.
Nathan Walker - RW - Many expected Australian winger Nathan Walker to be a draft pick this summer, but everyone passed. Now, he is bringing his skills to the lucky fans at Kettler. Walker is fast. A bundle of energy that never stops moving, he seems to always be available to his teammates. He isn't the biggest guy, but he always bounces right back up after hits. He was rewarded for his efforts with a goal today, and, if he keeps playing as well as he has, it could well be the first of many for the Washington Capitals.
The players return to the ice tomorrow morning for Capitals Development Camp Day 3.