- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lucas Johansen was running out of time to one-up his brother Ryan like he had vowed to do six years ago.

When Ryan was drafted fourth overall in 2010 by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Lucas, then 12 years old, turned to the family’s advisor and promised he’d be drafted higher when his turn finally came.

As the brothers sat together at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo last Friday, the first three picks came and went. Johansen was not drafted until the Washington Capitals selected the 18-year-old defenseman with the 28th overall pick.

“Ryan and I have been always been so competitive,” Lucas said. “This draft this year, third overall pick, he looked at me and said, ‘Hey, this is the only time you’ll get to beat me.’ It’s just our competitive spirit.”

That competitive nature, of course, is forged by Lucas‘ desire to follow in his brother’s footsteps. The biggest lesson Lucas took from Ryan, now a forward with the Nashville Predators, is to absorb all he can on his journey toward making an NHL team, which continued on Wednesday as he participated in the Capitals’ development camp.

“Always learn and always enjoy it because sometimes, this game and what we do can be stressful and you only get to do this whole process once so make sure you enjoy it,” Lucas said. “But at the same time, make sure you’re improving your weaknesses so when a team gives you an opportunity, you’ll be ready.”

During Wednesday’s session, the Capitals challenged players with on-ice testing to measure their agility and conditioning. Johansen was unable to participate as he recovered from an illness, however he did take part in various team drills afterward.

The illness, which he said was caused by food he ate on Monday, also kept him out of Tuesday’s practice.

“Finally to get out with the guys and being involved felt good,” Johansen said. “It was a pretty rocky start, but feeling better now. The whole, everything I missed… it’s not the impression you want to start off with. Don’t want the guys to think you’re high maintenance or stuff like that. It definitely sucked sitting out, but it’s good to get in there today.”

It was the first time Johansen was on the ice in a team setting since the Kelowna Rockets were eliminated from the WHL playoffs in late April. Last season, Johansen led all Kelowna defensemen with 10 goals and 39 assists.

For the 6-foot-2, 176-pound Johansen, one of the biggest challenges ahead as he begins his transition from junior hockey is gaining weight and strength. Part of that process involves increasing his daily intake to 5,000 calories, something he wasn’t able to do while he was playing.

Once development camp ends this week, he’ll head back to British Columbia and train with his brother — and compete — even if it’s not on the ice.

“I’m still just starting to get him in tennis and racquetball, but I’m catching up,” Johansen said. “We had some good battles going.”

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