The Lesser-Known Caps in the System (First of Two)

Posted August 14, 2011

Photo by Alena Schwarz

One month ago, the Washington Capitals held their annual Development Camp.  While 40 young men took part in the camp, most fans and spectators walked away remembering a scant handful of names.  Cody Eakin, Mattias Sjogren, two of the three Russians in town this year (your options are Stanislav Galiev, Dmitri Orlov, or Dmitry Kugryshev), and maybe Steffan Soberg or Philipp Grubauer if one is a goalie aficionado.  If you’re into Twitter, then you might also know who Garrett Mitchell is, simply because Andrew Gordon chirped him at the beginning of camp due to some form of Junior Hockey Solidarity.

So that’s, what, eight players at D-Camp this year who have anything resembling name recognition?  And I challenge the average Caps fan to pick more than two out of a lineup (Eakin doesn’t count – his hair alone is a dead giveaway).  That’s strike one against most of the players in attendance.  Strike two is determined by a very simple question – were you drafted, yes or no?  If yes, a player’s name will be littered throughout press releases leading up to the camp, and they’ll be listed on the Prospects Page of the Caps website.  Attention will be paid, and opportunities will come a touch more easily and frequently.  If no, a player is in the awkward position of being a Cinderella from the start, back against the wall and with the knowledge that they’ve been invited to camp to serve as cannon fodder so that the benches are full – third and fourth liners, who exist to provide a matte background upon which the stars can shine.

Here at Caps Outsider, however, we believe in the little guy.  Sure, we may write about a team that’s been considered a cup-less powerhouse for the last few years.  And maybe Alex Ovechkin is something of a household name in the hockey community.  But we mourn the loss of Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon just as much as Jason Arnott (and believe me, we’ll miss the Semin-whisperer).  And it’s with that spirit in mind that I’m going to share a few facts to help you remember the background dancers on this year’s summer stage.  Today’s post looks at the members of Group A.  Its counterpart will touch upon Group B, who won two out of the three scrimmages held over the course of the week.

Cherniwchan, Andrew (#86, F)

Age: 22.  Hometown: Hinton, Alberta.

  • Has stats!  Scored in scrimmage #1 and scrimmage #3!
  • Hit the ground running in college hockey, earning 3 points in his first game.  It remains his career high.
  • Named the Northern Michigan “Unsung Hero” for the 2010-11 season.

Civitarese, David (#79, F)

Age: 22.  Hometown: Calgary, Alberta.

  • Has stats!  Scored in scrimmage #2!
  • Multi-Tasker Extraordinaire: Recipient of multiple awards for scholarship, currently in his final year of a BS in Physics at Colorado College
  • Named Alternate Captain in his third year of university

Collins, Michael (#77, F)

Age: 21.  Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts.

  • Took two years off to play in the BCHL, winning two Royal Bank Cups with the Vernon Vipers before enrolling at Merrimack College in 2010.
  • Averaged exactly one penalty minute per game his first season at Merrimack.
  • Named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team 2011.

Eibler, Luke (#51, D)

Age: 21.  Hometown: Pinckney, Michigan.

  • Was cut from his Midget AAA team for being too small.  Proceeded to put on 8 inches in two years, and was suddenly an open ice hitting powerhouse. Has now topped out at 6′ 3″.
  • Played both Shortstop & Centerfield for his high school baseball team, logging three years with a bat (two of them as team captain).
  • First college contact he received was from Brian Burke.  No, the other Brian Burke.

Epp, Wade (#67, D)

Age: 22.  Hometown: Chilliwack, British Columbia.

  • Tied with the 17 year old Mitch Elliot and Stingray veteran Dustin Stevenson for “tallest man at camp.”
  • Was redshirted (practiced but never played) his first year at Northern Michigan (2009-10).  Earned a varsity slot his second season.
  • Photographs like a vampire (that is to say, pasty even for a BC boy)

Frazee, Thomas (#95, F)

Age: 21.  Hometown: N. Vancouver, British Columbia.

  • Has stats!  Scored in scrimmage #2!
  • Played for five teams in six years in the WHL.
  • Reached the league playoffs in every even-numbered year since entering Juniors (2006, 8, 10).  Has now exhausted his Junior eligibility.

Grant, Chase (#92, F)

Age: 21.  Hometown: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

  • Picked up hockey in Oklahoma City long before the Barons, back when the only game in town was the CHL Blazers.
  • Named captain of the Fargo Force by unanimous vote his second year with the expansion team.
  • Attends one of two universities in the US to have a purple cow as a mascot.  Granted, the Mankato Maverick looks a bit angrier than the bovine from Williams College.

Henley, Samuel (#87, F)

Age: 18.  Hometown: Val d’Or, Quebec.

  • 4th lightest skater at camp, and the only one even pretending to be over six feet tall (he’s hypothetically 6′ 3″).  Shares his name with an 18th century academic who taught at the College of William & Mary. The original Sam Henley did not play hockey.
  • Had the good fortune to land Lucky #87 for training camp.  I know that *I* immediately thought of Donald Brashear when that number appeared on the roster.
  • Strong believer in the power of the Prank Call.

Lockhart, Luke (#73, F)

Age: 19.  Hometown: Burnaby, British Columbia.

Mullane, Pat (#64, F)

Age: 21.  Hometown: Wallingford, Connecticut.

  • Spent three years at an all-boys boarding school whose mascot is the Winged Beaver.  Took a slot on a team in Omaha in order to see girls more than once in a blue moon during grade 12.
  • Perfect game attendance his first year of university, hitting the ice for 42 games with Boston College.  Also managed perfect scrimmage attendance at camp this year.
  • Has not yet managed to score himself a Wikipedia page, despite the fact that he is now legal to drink.

Oligny, Jimmy (#94, D)

Age: 18.  Hometown: St. Michel, Quebec.

  • His twitter feed is equal parts NFLers and chick music stars.  Oh, and being from St. Michel, he tweets in (fairly vulgar) French.  Only the language can be blamed on his birthplace, the content is all his.
  • Out of 5 fights in Juniors to date, has won zero.
  • Speaks English on par with Alex Semin
The invitees of Group A are standouts without being superstars, though some are more noted for their popular appeal than others (Chase Grant garnered quite a bit of press in his time in Fargo).  An even split between university boys and up & coming youngsters still proving their worth in juniors, none of these boys have formal ties with the Capitals organization at the moment – we likely won’t see most of them in town again.  But for a time, they were ours just as much as those top-shelf prospects whose names float in the headlines, and that makes them worth a few few moments of our time.