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Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Christian Djoos

Capitals 2017-18 Prospect Preview: Christian Djoos

YOU CAN WATCH TARIK AND JILL'S FULL BREAKDOWN OF CHRISTIAN DJOOS IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.

As we skate toward the start of the 2017-18 NHL Regular Season, our CSN Capitals team of Jill Sorenson and Tarik El-Bashir detail and analyze the Capitals roster.

They will take a look at breakout candidates, prospects on the rise, players in need of improvement and a look at the rest of the Metropolitan Division, all leading up to the start of the NHL regular season.

It's time to take a look at which top prospects have the tools to become full-time NHL players and what they have to do to get the call-up from Hershey.

Next up is Christian Djoos, a player who Capitals fans have been waiting to see in Washington for a long time.

PROSPECT PREVIEWS: Jakub Vrana | Nathan Walker | Chandler Stephenson

2017-18 CAPITALS PROSPECT PREVIEW: CHRISTIAN DJOOS

Position: Defenseman
Age: 22
Height: 6-0
Weight: 164 pounds
Contract: Two-Way in 2017-18, One-Way in 2018-19. Two-year, $1.3 Million (2017)

AHL Seasons: 3 (129 games)
2016-17 AHL Stats: 66 games, 13 goals, 45 assists, +9 plus/minus

PREVIEWING 2017-18 BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: Tom Wilson | Brett Connolly | Andre Burakovsky

Tarik El-Bashir's Prospect Preview:

Christian Djoos had a fantastic season last year, racking up 13 goals and 45 assists in just 66 games with the Hershey Bears.

In fact, his assist total was tied for the most among all AHL defensemen and his point total was third—two off the lead. (The guys ahead of him, by the way, are longtime AHL vets; Djoos is 22.)

After producing a season like that, the Caps are expected to give the 2012 seventh rounder every opportunity to earn a spot in Washington this fall. And given the team’s need to replace Nate Schmidt, it’s possible Djoos’ role could become a significant one—if, of course, he proves he can handle the duties of an NHL blue-liner at his size.

The Caps list Djoos at 6-foot, 164-pounds.

Winger T.J. Oshie is currently the lightest player on the roster at 189 pounds, while Taylor Chorney is the lightest defenseman at 191 pounds.

Bears Coach Troy Mann says he’s confident that Djoos’ can compensate for that lack of size with his high hockey I.Q. and savvy ability to avoid big and unnecessary collisions.  

“He doesn’t get a hit a lot,” Mann told CSN’s Capitals Faceoff Podcast this week.

The Caps have five defensemen under contract (Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, Brooks Orpik and Chorney) for next season. That’ll leave a couple of spots open, including one for a spare, when camp opens in September—and Djoos figures to head up the list of players jockeying for a job.

“I think that Djoos is a perfect candidate when you start looking at the [openings on] defense,” Mann said. “No. 1, he’s a great puck mover. You’ve really got to come to a hockey game and watch him from up top to appreciate his skill set, and his ability to break pucks out. I think the NHL in the last couple of years has certainly gone in a different direction. I don’t think you can have too many puck movers on your team, and certainly that’s something he can do.”

Djoos, who has yet to play in an NHL game, is the son of former offensive defenseman Par Djoos, who played 82 games for the Red Wings and Rangers in the early 1990’s.   

RELATED: Ranking the 10 best Capitals players of all time

Jill Sorenson's Prospect Analysis:

What He Has: Skill, limitless talent. "If you take a look at the highlights, what he can do is jaw-dropping. To be able to see that on the ice here in Washington will be something to behold. He's very smooth and he has great vision. Part of that is his elusiveness. He can see when someone is coming, and next thing you know he's put the puck in the back of the net."

What He Needs to Do: Size, Endurance. "This first month or two, if he makes the NHL roster, will be very, very important."

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Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov team up for preseason game in Montreal

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov team up for preseason game in Montreal

Two nights after opening the preseason with a loss in New Jersey, the Capitals will make a day trip to Montreal on Wednesday for Game 2 of the exhibition season.

And they’ll ice a completely new group of players.

Here’s how Coach Barry Trotz will have them line up:

Forwards
Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Vrana
Simpson-Stephenson-Smith-Pelly
Connolly-Pilon-Wilson
Sill-Albert-Peluso

Defense
Orpik-Hobbs
Jokipakka-Bowey
Siegenthaler-Williams

Goalies
Grubauer
Copley

RELATED: HOW TO WATCH WEDNESDAY'S PRESEASON GAME

A few notes and observations from the skate:

  • The Caps made the first roster move of the preseason Wednesday morning, returning 2014 seventh rounder Kevin Elgestal to HC Vita Hasten. On Monday night in New Jersey, Elgestal got pickpocketed by Devils first overall pick Nico Hischier on Hischier’s nifty goal.
  • Coach Barry Trotz said the first significant round of cuts is coming Thursday, followed by another round over the weekend. The roster currently stands at 39 forwards, 18 defensemen and 7 goalies.
  • The stakes are high Wednesday night for a handful of players who are battling for spots. Among them: Vrana, Smith-Pelly, Peluso up front and Bowey on the backend. Vrana’s getting a look on the top line, Smith-Pelly is coming off his best day of practice on Tuesday, Peluso has looked good so far and Bowey needs a strong showing in the preseason to lock down a spot.
  • Trotz on Peluso, who is vying for the right wing spot on the fourth line: “He’s got pretty good hands for a man that’s known for other qualities. He’s a student of the game, works on his game. I like what he’s done in camp. We’ll see how he does tonight.”
  • Stephenson, a prospect who’s appeared in 13 games for the Caps the past two seasons, is the only player who will have appeared in both of the first two exhibition games. Stephenson can play center and wing. He’s also got to clear waivers in order to be sent to the minors. “He’s got a skillset that is NHL ready,” Trotz said. “Now it’s just can he showcase and be very consistent. If he does and has production, I think his chances are very good.” 
  • After taking a pair of faceoff penalties Monday night, Trotz said the coaches reviewed some video with the centers. There was also discussion about slashing fouls after the Caps were whistled for three infractions in Newark. “Players are really smart, and they will adjust,” Trotz said.

 

MORE CAPITALS: JAY BEAGLE SEES METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF NHL'S FACEOFF EMPHASIS

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Jay Beagle sees method to the madness of NHL's faceoff emphasis

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USA TODAY Sports

Jay Beagle sees method to the madness of NHL's faceoff emphasis

Monday’s preseason opener was a tough game to watch. With two teams opening their preseason slate, some sloppy hockey was expected. What was not expected, however, was the 20 minor penalties doled out on the night.

Along with slashing, faceoffs is a point of emphasis for the NHL this season. Referees and linesmen will be much stricter when enforcing faceoff rules, specifically where a player positions his stick and skate while taking a faceoff.

That emphasis was on full display in New Jersey as three faceoff violation penalties were issued, one within the game’s first minute.

“Just from what guys had said that played in the game and everything just obviously messing up with the flow and just having all those penalties, it sounded kind of crazy,” Capitals center Jay Beagle told reporters on Tuesday. “It's something to be seen, I guess. I hope they're just trying it out in preseason.”

RELATED: YOU HAVE GOT TO SEE THE CAPS' PROMOTIONAL GIVEAWAYS FOR THE SEASON

Beagle stands to be the most affected by the faceoff crackdown as the team's top faceoff man. He led the team last season with a faceoff win percentage of 56.4-percent, tied for the 12th best in the NHL among players who took 100 faceoffs or more. He was the only center on the team with a positive faceoff percentage in the defensive zone (56.8-percent) and shorthanded (55.7-percent).

Like everyone, Beagle was not a fan of how the referees enforced the faceoff rules on Monday.

“It's a tough rule to enforce because to make it like it was [Monday] with a bunch of penalties and just the first period with no flow, I don't know if you guys enjoyed watching it, but most people did not like it,” he said. “I don't think that's good for the game.”

But that doesn't mean Beagle doesn't agree with it. Whle Monday's game was ugly, to say the least, he does understand where the NHL is coming from and even wondered if stricter enforcement could perhaps be a good thing.

“Little tweaks here and there to the rule that they’re trying to imply, I think it would work,” Beagle said.

By rule, for a faceoff in the defensive zone, the defensive forward must put his stick down first. Technically the offensive player is then supposed to put his stick down before the faceoff, but in practice linesmen frequently will drop the puck once the defensive forward's stick is down. This gives the offensive player an advantage as he is more easily able to get his stick under for the win.

“Say in the D-zone my stick has to come down first and an offensive guy has to bring his stick down first and they pause for a second and then drop the puck,” Beagle said, “It's more even than me putting my stick down first, an offensive guy flying into the dot and snapping it back on me. It might make it more even.”

So there may be a method to the NHL’s madness even if all we saw on Monday was the madness. Both the players and referees will have to adjust throughout the preseason in order to ensure a much cleaner look at the faceoff dot in the regular season.

“It's going to be something that you have to work on quite a bit,” Beagle said. “It'll take a lot adjustment for everyone."

MORE CAPITALS: LET'S TRY THIS: OVECHKIN AND KUZNETSOV TO START THE SEASON ON THE SAME LINE