25 April, 2014


More Red Lamp-Lighting from Russia

photo courtesy of the Washington Capitals

photo courtesy of the Washington Capitals


Back in June, we had a chance to ask Capitals’ General Manager George McPhee about progress and success the organization has enjoyed with the Entry Draft. He agreed then with our assessment that recent Capitals’ drafts had been markedly better than those in his first years on the job in D.C. Because the Capitals did not own a lottery pick in this past June’s entry draft in Ottawa, there was considerably less local media interest in the 2008 draft — the Washington Post didn’t send a reporter to cover it, for instance.
OFB is characteristically curious about Capitals’ prospects from the time they are drafted because, well, a couple of us have an inner draftgeek, but also because so little old media coverage is accorded prospects’ development — how often do either of Washington’s big newspapers cover developments with Caps’ prospects in Major Juniors or Hershey? From the time they’re 18-year-old draft picks to the time they arrive in the¬† big-leagues, there’s a remarkable development journey for hockey players, and it is novel among professional sports. We think it’s worth covering.
We’re particularly curious about Capitals’ 2008 second-round selection Dmitri Kugryshev, whom with SovetskySport’s Dmitry Chesnokov’s assistance we interviewed earlier in the summer. In light of the success the Caps have had with a handful of Russian prospects since 2004, how could you not be curious about him?
Back in July, Kugryshev told¬†us of his elation at being selected by the Caps, and of his enthusiasm for making a¬†go of it in North America beginning this season. Kugryshev is in training camp now with the Quebec Remparts, and as a freshman in Canadian Major Juniors, and a complete outsider both to North American culture and its brand of hockey, you’d expect him to struggle a bit — at least early on. Well, here’s the tally on that level of struggle from his first two exhibition games in a Quebec sweater:

3 goals, 4 assists

His name appears rather high in the Q’s scoring leader’s list for the preseason.
So conspicuous a start we thought merited some feedback on it from the young man,¬†so we tasked our intrepid Russian¬†hockey journalist chum, Chesnokov, with throwing a few questions from us his way. Chesnokov actually remains in regular contact with Kugryshev, talking with him on a weekly basis. We just wanted a sense of Kugryshev’s initial impressions of hockey life in North America.
“Overall, I like everything,” Kugryshev told Chesnokov. “During games, [Patrick] Roy talks a lot in the locker room, draws plays on the board, but I don’t understand anything in French!”
How then does he understand the gameplan, if he doesn’t understand his head coach’s native tongue?
“Roy pulls me and [teammate] Mikhail Stefanovich aside before the game and gives us instructions in English. [Roy] likes to joke and laugh (off the ice), but on the ice he is very strict and firm,” Kugryshev added.
The Caps’ newest Russian talent is staying with a host family in Quebec this season. He sure seems to be enjoying — and succeeding in — his new environment.



8 Comments

  1. Sombrero Guy wrote:

    Well here’s hoping he continues to dominate

    11 September, 2008 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  2. b.orr4 wrote:

    Ho, hum, just another Caps prospect tearing it up juniors. Seriously, how improved has the Caps scouting department become in the last five years? I know I’m biased, but I look at the young players in the system and I’m hard pressed to find too many teams doing a better job of identifying and drafting top talent. The knock on McPhee had always been that he never had much success after the first round. Well, that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case any longer. Between Hershey and the draftees now in Juniors, the Caps are building a farm system that could keep them very good for a lot of years.

    11 September, 2008 at 10:10 am | Permalink
  3. Sombrero Guy wrote:

    Its also goo to note that he is able to receive coaching instructions in English. For some reason I thought he was still very much in need of an interpreter.

    11 September, 2008 at 10:36 am | Permalink
  4. pepper wrote:

    That is good to read that he’s able to at least understand coaching instructions in English. Imagine what added value he would have if he were able to become conversant in Russian, English, and French. Wish I could say that.

    11 September, 2008 at 11:17 am | Permalink
  5. Muddapucker wrote:

    I like him!

    11 September, 2008 at 9:39 pm | Permalink
  6. Lee (PTO) wrote:

    I dub thee….
    COUGAR!!!!! *rrowwwrrr*
    Now get down here and hoist the cup with us soon!

    12 September, 2008 at 12:42 pm | Permalink
  7. Eli wrote:

    I’ll be the first to say that the Caps put themselves in better position going forward from the lockout when they hired away one of the Avalanche’s top scouts. I’m also frankly amazed at the success the Caps had in the 2004 draft, before the new guy got started. The odds of turning three picks in the same first round into an MVP wing, an all star defenseman and a stay-at-home guy who can occasionally handle top four minutes are incredibly, incredibly low.
    Still, the amazing thing here isn’t the scouting. Every team knew Kugryshev was good. The other twenty-nine just didn’t want to risk a 1st round pick on a talented player who appeared too likely to head to the KHL.
    It’s great that the Caps took the time to make sure they found a guy who was indeed headed to N.A. It’s also great that their team has enjoyed such a surge of popularity in Russia that they are now in a better position to lure him across the pond than any other squad.
    Even if the Caps can’t offer Kugryshev as big a rookie contract under the current CBA as some Russian clubs will probably offer him, the Caps alone in the world can offer Kugryshev a chance to play with the best players Russia has to offer.
    When your team features the starting forward line from the winning Russian world championship squad, you can take a risk on a Russian kid that other teams can’t afford.

    12 September, 2008 at 11:55 pm | Permalink
  8. 13 September, 2008 at 5:36 pm | Permalink