It’s the middle of July, Bruce Boudreau keeps saying, so it’s not the time to make grand pronunciations about 17-to-23-year-old Capitals prospects at this week’s development camp. What the coach has stressed recently is that guys with camp experience have been thriving, with familiarity breeding a heck of a lot more good hockey sense than it does contempt.
In Thursday’s scrimmage, Garrett Mitchell proved that by scoring a goal and the shootout clincher as the white team beat the red team 4-3. For good measure, he even got into a fight.
“He’s not a tall guy, but as he’s getting older, he’s getting bigger and stronger,” Boudreau said. “Today was probably the first real time I saw him assert himself. He got into a little fight and he competed and you love his character – he gets hurt a little bit, but he shakes it off, doesn’t even wanna go to the bench and then he scores the shootout [winner].”
This is the third Caps development camp for Mitchell, a sixth-round pick in 2009. The 19-year-old who has exhausted his junior eligibility after four full seasons with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League is likely headed to Hershey in the fall.
That’ll be a bit of a new trick, but in this summer showcase Mitchell knows what he’s doing.
“You feel a little more comfortable every time you come,” he said. “You’re here three times now, you feel a little bit more comfortable with the systems. You can just kinda go out there and play your game.”
Explaining the shootout goal, Mitchell joked that he “kinda just blacked out and it happened.” If you want to chalk that up to luck, OK, but for the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Mitchell to fight with 6-foot-1, 201-pound free agent invitee Scott Wietecha proves something else.
“I guess as a smaller guy, you go after a bigger guy it’s a win-win situation,” he said. “I try to get involved in the game, and that’s part of my game, I guess. So I just go out and drop the mitts and see how it goes.”
Mitchell took some punches but held his own, just as he’s been doing all week.