- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 18, 2009

Patrick Wey’s upper lip was about three times its normal size Thursday, but it didn’t prevent the 18-year-old from cracking a smile minutes after a pretty successful scrimmage - save for the puck to the face, of course.

Wey, a fourth-round pick by the Washington Capitals last month, is among a stable of the defensemen the organization has used on high draft selections in recent years. Although he’s one of the youngest players on the ice, he hasn’t looked out of place during the team’s summer development camp.

“It has been real tough. They’ve been working us pretty hard, but it has been a good experience for me,” Wey said. “It’s a level of hockey I haven’t been exposed to too much. I’m kind of learning on the fly and taking what I can from the guys around me and trying to make myself better.”

Last summer, the Caps tabbed a defenseman from the United States Hockey League who, after 12 months of hindsight, should have been off the board before the team selected John Carlson with the 27th overall pick.

Wey is not considered to be on the same level as Carlson, but that doesn’t mean a strong 2009-10 campaign wouldn’t have other scouting directors going back and trying to figure out what they missed with the 6-foot-3, 203-pound kid. He had a successful 2008-09 with the Waterloo Black Hawks, scoring seven goals and 34 points in 58 games. Wey looked comfortable on the distributing end of a two-on-one during the scrimmage Thursday - even though he had just been bleeding from his lip less than an hour before.

“I think he’s just a steady, solid player that competes and has a little bite to his game,” Caps scout Steve Richmond said. “He needs to work a little on his foot speed, but four years - or three or whatever it takes - we think he can be a player because he’s got the head and the will to play.”

Carlson went to the Ontario Hockey League to play for former Caps captain Dale Hunter, while Wey will take the more traditional path for USHL kids and play college hockey, enrolling next year at Boston College. It is a different league and a different culture of hockey, but Caps general manager George McPhee is equally pleased with Wey’s plans.

At Boston College he will play for Jerry York, who helped McPhee develop into a Hobey Baker award winner at Bowling Green.

“We have relationships with those people, and it seems to help,” McPhee said. “We like it when they are going to a good program, because we know they will be well-coached and will get to play in a lot of big games.”

As Richmond alluded to, Wey will likely spend at least three years at the Chestnut Hill, Mass., campus, but he could be an interesting prospect for the organization in the future. Wey was also a lacrosse player until he left home after his sophomore year of high school to move to Waterloo and play in the USHL, but he failed to put those skills to use early in the scrimmage.

“It just kind of snuck up on me,” he said. “I tried to catch it with my glove, but it is fine.”

Wey’s final list of college choices included Minnesota, New Hampshire and Harvard. York has a pretty convincing history with helping defensemen realize their potential, whether with Rob Blake and Garry Galley at Bowling Green or, more recently, Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi at Boston College.

Blake, Galley and Scuderi were, like Wey, midround selections in the NHL draft.

“It just kind of felt right to me. I liked the mix of school and hockey, and I really liked the coaches and the opportunity for them to make me a better player,” Wey said. “It was a big thing for me to go somewhere where I can play and develop and obviously the history of defensemen coming out of BC is really good.”

Note - The Caps traded 2006 second-round pick Keith Seabrook to Calgary for future considerations. The Caps would have lost the rights to Seabrook, the younger brother of Chicago star Brent Seabrook, last summer but because he began his career in NCAA hockey before moving to the Western Hockey League (he played for Calgary last year), they would have kept those rights until next summer when his college class would have graduated.

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