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.