- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2011

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau won’t really open up about what he’s looking for among the handful of guys competing for the last forward spot, but each player offers something totally different. Here’s a look at the combatants, in an estimated order of chance to make the team:

Mattias Sjogren

Age: 23

Height: 6-1

Weight: 209

Strengths: He’s strong in the faceoff circle and has no problem being physical. He should be able to kill penalties, too.

Weaknesses: Sjogren isn’t the best skater in the world, so his lack of speed could hinder him in the NHL.

What Sjogren says: “[I want to show] I can play at this level and be ready when they drop the puck and play my game.”

On killing penalties: “Of course you want to play penalty killing. I did it a lot in Sweden and did the same with national team. So if I get the chance, I’d appreciate it.

Cody Eakin

Age: 20

Height: 5-11

Weight: 179

Strengths: For a highly touted prospect, Eakin isn’t flashy — he’s a hard-nosed center who can kill penalties and play defense.

Weaknesses: Strength itself. He was bullied around by Sjogren a lot in development camp, especially on faceoffs.

What Eakin says: “[I need to] just show that I can understand each position I’m in and each scenario that I’m in on the ice, whether I’m on the backcheck or the forecheck, just to do smart, simple things and always keep my feet going.”

Christian Hanson

Age: 25

Height: 6-4

Weight: 227

Strengths: He’s a big guy who can stand in front of the net and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. Hanson is also comfortable at both wing and center.

Weaknesses: Don’t expect a whole lot of offense from Hanson, who bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL while with the Maple Leafs.

What Hanson says: “They have a lot of guys who can score goals and come in and do a lot of the offensive stuff. But they said they just need a couple of guys that are big-bodied, bottom-six presence.”

Mathieu Perreault

Age: 23

Height: 5-10 (more realistically 5-8)

Weight: 175

Strengths: Perreault is quick on his skates, can put the puck in the net and knows the Caps’ system very well.

Weaknesses: That 5-10 listed height would be right if measuring with skates. Maybe.

What Perreault says: “I like my chances. There’s always a few spots open on the roster every year, and I feel that I can take that spot this year. I feel good about myself; I feel good about my game. I’m in good shape; I feel great.”

Ryan Potulny

Age: 27

Height: 6-0

Weight: 190

Strengths: Potulny brings some NHL experience but is also a very seasoned, competent AHL player. He won’t make many mistakes and can score when asked.

Weaknesses: He also isn’t the prototypical “energy” guy or particularly great at faceoffs.

What Potulny says: “I don’t think you come into camp with any expectations. I think you come in with goals, and for me, I think the main thing from what I’ve learned over the years is to get better each day. If I get better each day, personally, I can show the management and coaching staff what I can do, day-to-day.”

Chris Bourque

Age: 25

Height: 5-8 (more realistically 5-6½)

Weight: 170

Strengths: Bourque saw some power-play time in the preseason opener, a role he thrived in when playing for Hershey. He’s quick and will certainly provide energy.

Weaknesses: He looks up to Perreault and has never been able to stick in the NHL.

What Bourque says: “I definitely have looked at the roster, and you’re right, there’s probably not too many openings. But I can always open some eyes — whether you play well in camp, if you get sent down, maybe be the first call-up. There’s always going to be injuries, and if you play well enough, maybe they’ll trade someone to give you that roster spot.”

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