Capitals Conclude Summer Development Camp

Allen PopelsCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2009

RALEIGH, NC - SEPTEMBER 24: John Carlson #74 of the Washington Capitals warms up before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center on September 24, 2008 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, VA: The Capitals concluded their 2009 edition of development camp with a scrimmage in front of a packed house Saturday afternoon at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Michael Dubuc continued his strong performance this week by tallying a pair of goals as the white team defeated the blue team 4-2.  The two goals gave the 21-year-old French Canadian a total of seven during the week's three scrimmages which led all scorers.

Dubuc, a player under an AHL contract with the Hershey Bears, spent the majority of last season with the South Carolina Stingrays in the ECHL.  He scored 35 goals and 58 points in just 49 games as a rookie in the regular season, then followed that up with four goals and seven points in the playoffs during the Stingrays run to the Kelly Cup Championship.  In other words, Dubuc is a goal scorer, something that helped him get noticed by the Capitals coaching staff this week.

"You can't overlook the fact that Dubuc had seven goals in three games," said Bruce Boudreau.  "Goal scorers stand out." 

Dubuc is hoping that his success this week has perhaps earned him a NHL contract and a full-time position with the Bears in the AHL this fall.

Scrimmages like this are good opportunities to try some new things.  One of those experiments was giving defenseman Joe Finley, the Capitals' first round pick in 2005, a look at left wing.  The hulking 6-foot 7-inch Minnesota native would surely give the team a physical presence on the front line if he can make the transition.

"To get to put the defenseman's nose into the glass for once is a nice feeling," said Finley.  "The only time I don't think I was comfortable was a few times in the defensive zone.  I wanted to get on the puck carrier too much and pressure them.  I just had to back off a little bit and make sure I was picking up the late guy."

In a sign of a true team player, Finley added, "I'll play goalie if you need me too.  I just want to get every opportunity to get on the ice.  Anyway I can help the team and get myself to the next level I'm willing to do it."

"It was out of necessity because of Gustafsson and Della Rovere getting hurt, but we've always thought in the back of our minds that he could be a pretty imposing forward because he can skate, he's got better than average hands, he passes the puck well, and shoots the puck well," said Boudreau.  "It's a bit of an experiment, but it's not unique to the hockey world that you try guys in other positions.  We know what he can do and it gives him an idea that this is a spot that might be better suited for him."

For other players this camp could be a stepping stone in their quest to make the big club this fall.  One of the favorites out of this group to do just that is defenseman John Carlson, the Capitals' first round pick in 2008 and one of the team's top prospects.

"I don't know if I played my best," critiqued Carlson.  "I kind of took a little time off after we made the run in Hershey so I'm going to get back on the ice a lot more come August and get ready for that camp.  I thought I did well, but I know I can do a lot better."

With two months to go until training camp, the fans came out in large numbers knowing that this was their last chance to get a look at Capitals hockey until this fall.

"The fans and the publicity around town is unbelievable," added Carlson.  "You can see that this program is just boomed in the past five years or so.  I got a chance to see game 7 against New York in Washington in the playoffs this year and that was unbelievable too.  Those kind of things excite you, force you to want to make it there even more."

Last season six players from the Capitals summer development camp spent time in the NHL with the big club, and Carlson is the odds on favorite from this group to make the jump this year.

Capitals Notes:  The team traded away defensive prospect Keith Seabrook to the Calgary Flames on Friday for future considerations.  The team's second round pick in the 2006 NHL draft played for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL last season where he totaled 15 goals and 55 points in 64 games.  However, the writing was on the wall when Seabrook wasn't signed this offseason and also was not a part of the summer camp.

Lisa Hillary re-signed with Comcast SportsNet and will once again be the station's Capitals beat reporter for the upcoming season.

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