When the updated Capitals training camp roster came out Sunday, there was one name absent: that of goaltender Steffen Soberg. It was curious, though a team spokesman explained that Soberg was deciding whether to play this season in North America or Europe.
For many prospects, that seems like a non-story, but goaltending coach Dave Prior from the day the Caps drafted Soberg insisted the fourth-round pick should play in one of Canada’s junior leagues. Now that there’s uncertainty, Prior told The Washington Times he’s not concerned and still believes Soberg will be in Swift Current of the Western Hockey League for 2011-12.
“It’s a disappointment because it would be nice to have the time to work with him. But until it’s sorted out, I guess, it’s not a concern,” Prior said Monday. “It excited me more he’s playing in North America, and my understanding is that’s still a likelihood at this point.”
Like with current Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, Prior hoped a move from Europe to somewhere in the Canadian Hockey League would help “fast-track” Soberg’s career.
“For a goaltender, you’re facing the best players you can face in the world in your age group, so it certainly helps your development,” Prior said.
The difference is, the Caps knew before selecting Neuvirth that he wanted to come to North America to get that seasoning – he told them as much in pre-draft meetings. Soberg, on the other hand, hadn’t had any real contact with the organization, and Prior noted that the young goalie expressed some hesitation back in July after going home following development camp.
Of course Prior’s always one to put things in a positive way – so he noted that Soberg’s absence could aid Philipp Grubauer and Brandon Anderson this week.
“It’s a plus for the other two because they’ve got more net time; they’re both excellent goaltenders and they’ve got one coach for each goaltender here,” Prior said. “It’s a nice ratio with two goalies and two goaltending coaches.”