Saturday, September 16, 2006

New Look for Beech, Clymer; News from ChocolateTown

- Kris Beech is likely getting his last look at this training camp to determine whether he has the ability to become a full-time NHLer or a permanent addition to the AHL's Hershey Bears roster, according to the Post's Tarik El-Bashir.

I'm kind of on the fence about Beech at this point, as are a lot of people. The few times I saw him up with the Caps towards the end of last season he was good but not a standout - he has good speed, is willing to hit people (although those people don't always fall down) and has a decent shot. My question with Beech is consistency; too often he would make a good play and would follow that by coughing up the puck or missing the net. Of course, that's something that unfortunately seemed to happen a lot among all the Caps last year, so not necessarily a strike against him personally...

I'm definitely rooting for Kris - he has the tenacity and the raw talent that seems to be running rampant among the young guys in the ranks, and I hated that we traded him away back in 2001. He put together a spectacular postseason with the Bears but he'll absolutely have some things to prove with the big boys, esecially since he has some pretty tough competition. Brooks Laich turned a temporary stint with the Caps into a permanent position (and quickly became one of my favorite players) and Brian Sutherby is coming off a career season and seems hungry for a larger role.

I'm not sure that I agree with Tarik that Beech is the first choice to center the second line ahead of these two more experienced centers, but I also haven't gotten as good a look at Beech as I'd like to really make up my mind. I'll have to see what I think at training camp and in his preseason appearances.

- Dave Fay takes a closer look at Ben Clymer's shift to the Caps' blue line in today's Times. This story, broken a few weeks ago on the Caps Report, is interesting to me because you so rarely see it happen that a player will switch positions so significantly. Usually you hear about the switch from left to right wing or vice versa (an idea that many had for this season should the Clymer experiment not work creating a surplus of wingers). Offense to defense is a horse of a different color, but if anyone is able to do it smoothly it would be Clymer. He's tough and a fairly quick skater, with a wicked shot from the point that seemed particularly effective on the power play at the end of last year.

It looks like Ben will be taking it all in stride as seems to be his way - before this was announced, he had gone on the Caps Report and pretty much said he didn't want to switch back to D, but he now seems excited about the prospect of returning to the position in which he was drafted. I liked his comment when asked if it was a permanent change, replying that
"[f]or now, it's permanently experimental." Very noncomittal, well done, Ben - they'll make a professional athlete out of you yet!

- Vogel's article on Clymer from - a little more in depth and, as would be expected, more direct input from Clymer and his teammates.

- Is is just me or are the future Capitals going to be flush with both talent and toughness? It would be nice, since before last season that mix seemed to be skewed with more of one than the other (and sometime with neither). We've seen features on our flashy snipers and playmakers, but here's an interesting look at two future, ahem, Lady Byng candidates coming to terms with their pugilistic past as they become united in a common cause: Play Nice, Boys

- I love that our new affiliation with the Calder Cup-Champion Hershey Bears forces Pittsburgh-area papers to write about the sunny future of the Caps...does that make me a bad person? Here's some news from around Hershey as the youngsters get a shot at the big time:
Lebanon Daily News
The Patriot-News

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