Filip Forsberg returned from injury to captain Team Sweden at the World Juniors.
RW - Miami (Ohio) University - 18
Riley Barber has continued on the tear of a start to his rookie career. And December was huge for him. In five games, Barber had two goals and three assists and was +2. On the year, Barber now has eight goals and 14 assists with a +9 rating through 18 games. Despite this, his biggest achievement came in his inclusion in the Team USA World Juniors team, where he starred on the first-line alongside Miami teammate Sean Kuraly and Montreal Canadiens prospect Alex Galchenyuk. Through four preliminary round games, Barber scored one goal and two assists and was -1.
C – University of New Hampshire (NCAA) – 22
Greg Burke made his return from a six-month absence with a shoulder injury, but only managed two games in December, from which he was pointless and -1. If he stays injury-free, Burke will have six January games with which to bounce back. In 11 games, he has three goals and two assists and is +3.
C – University of Minnesota (NCAA) – 19
One of the real risers of the Caps prospect pool, Travis Boyd continues to impress since being drafted in the 6th-round in 2011, though December was a relatively quiet month for him with two assists and +1 in five games. On the year, Boyd has three goals, eight assists, 11 points, and a +3 rating in 19 games, impressive numbers for an underdog NHL prospect in only his sophomore season.
D - Plymouth Whalers (OHL) - 18
After a solid start to his OHL career, Connor Carrick, who turned down the University of Michigan this summer to become the Plymouth Whalers’ alternate captain, had somewhat of an up-and-down month. In 10 games, Carrick scored twice, added four assists, and recorded a -1 rating. Nevertheless, his stat-line of six goals and 14 assists and a +2 rating in 36 games speaks of a promising first half of the season.
C - University of Notre Dame (NCAA) - 18
While his fellow Caps prospects have been excelling, 4th-rounder Thomas DiPauli has actually had a pretty rough start to the season. December was positive, though, as he scored one goal and was +1 in four Notre Dame wins. He may only have three goals and two assists in 18 games so far, but for a player that is continuously enjoying top-six minutes and has a +7 rating for the Fighting Irish, the points should soon come.
D - Brynäs (Elitserien) - 18
Tiny Swedish defenseman Christian Djoos might well be the NHL prospect that has enjoyed the greatest stock increase since the draft, and his meteoric rise continued into December. His stats for the month, -1 and pointless in three games, belie his play, as he has continued to impress on his pro team’s top defensive pairing. Djoos now is +2 and averages 14:47 ice time per game. Much to the delight of Caps fans, Djoos was one of the three Caps prospects to be selected to play at the 2013 World Juniors, and in the preliminary rounds rose from being a fringe player for Team Sweden to one of its go-to stars. Djoos has three assists an even rating through four games.
RW - Leksand (HockeyAllsvenkan) - 18
Filip Forsberg returned from a hip injury shortly before the World Juniors started, managing to appear in three games. He racked up two goals and three assists and was +5. On the year, Forsberg, all but certain to be a Caps player next season, has nine goals and 10 assists with a +3 rating in 22 games. Forsberg was given the honor of captaining his Team Sweden at the World Juniors, and has so far posted two goals and two assists in four games as one of Sweden’s key offensive stars. He is +1.
D –Western Michigan University (NCAA) – 19
After a tough November, Garrett Haar’s miseries continued into the month of December. He appeared in five games, totaling one assist and going +1. Haar missed the last two games of WMU’s month with an undisclosed upper-body injury, the severity of which remains unknown. On the year, Haar has three goals and three assists in 16 games to along with an even rating, and despite the apparent struggles, he is only two points away from equaling his totals from last year.
C – University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA) – 21
Caleb Herbert had a much-improved December after a downright bad start to his season. After his incredible rookie campaign, Herbert had just seven points in 13 games, but this month managed three goals and one assists in seven games. He was -2. Though he is improving, he still has only four goals and seven assists through 20 games, a far cry from what was expected of him after his stellar freshman year.
D – Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) – 20
Penn State-bound Patrick Koudys has continued to plug away for his Muskegon Lumberjacks this season, and had a pretty decent December. In 11 games, he had three assists and went -1 (which would have been far better if not for a -5 haul in his last three games). Koudys has now appeared in 31 games this season, having six assists, 48 penalty minutes, and +4.
RW – Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL) – 20
He struggled badly in November, but superstar prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov really turned it on in December. His omittance from the Team Russia squad for the Channel One Cup seemed to give him a kick up the backside, as he went on to score six goals and two assists in nine games. He now has 16 goals and 18 assists in 38 games. He is +2. There is little question the guy is NHL-ready.
D - Calgary Hitmen (WHL) – 19
It was an offensively slow but defensively incredible month for 7th-round pick Jaynen Rissling. After posting 12 points through 23 games, Rissling managed only one goal and two assists in 12 games in December. That said, Rissling was a rock on the blueline, going +10 and fighting twice. Rissling is still on track to break his points total from last year, with four goals and 11 assists through 35 games leaving him eight short. He is also an impressive +17 (a significant improvement from the -27 he was in 2010-11) and has 69 penalty minutes.
LW - University of Calgary (CIS) - 22
Canadian Interuniversity Sports have an extended Christmas break, so Taylor Stefishen only appeared in one game, not factoring onto the scoresheet. The former Nashville Predators prospect still has only one goal this season, but also has 11 assists and is +9 in 16 games. His Dinos return to action on January 4 against UBC.
LW - Regina Pats (WHL) - 18
Chandler Stephenson made his long-awaited return from a 25-game absence with a severed foot tendon, coming back with a bang. The 3rd-rounder managed to fit in only three games this month, but racked up a whole four goals and four assist, including a six-point performance against Saskatoon. He was +5. Through 15 games, Stephenson has eight goals and 10 assists for 18 points and is -1.
G – Vålerenga (GET-Ligaen) – 19
Steffen Søberg’s biggest December achievement was no doubt leading his Norway to gold at the 2013 Division 1 Group A World Juniors. He started in all five games, winning four, and posted a .951 save percentage and 1.38 goals against average, being named his country’s MVP in the process. That said, the goalie struggled with Vålerenga in the GET-Ligaen, winning just two of six games and seeing his save percentage drop from .922 to .911 and his GAA rise from 2.23 to 2.54. After leading the league all season, Vålerenga dropped to second.
D – Boston College (NCAA) – 21
With the Christmas break, Patrick Wey appeared in only four games this week for the BC Eagles, but they were not his finest. The senior had one assist and was -1. On the year, Wey, who will be a member of the Caps organization next year, has one goal, eight assists, and +5 in 16 games.
RW - Plymouth Whalers (OHL) - 18
Heading into the draft, the only concern surrounding 6’3” manchild Tom Wilson was his offensive productivity. But after 26 games, those have been eradicated, as Wilson has already surpassed his total of 27 points from last year in almost half the games. Despite the disappointment of being cut from Team Canada’s World Juniors team, Wilson had a tremendous month, posting five goals and three assists to go along with a +3 rating in nine games. He also had 20 penalty minutes. Wilson now has 10 goals and 18 assists on the season, coupled with a +13 rating and 57 PIMs.
RW - University of Notre Dame (NCAA) - 19
Much like fellow 4th-rounder and Notre Dame forward Thomas DiPauli, Austin Wuthrich has struggled early in 2012-13. The Alaskan returned from an upper-body injury to appear in three games, and went +1 with one assist. He has one goal and four assists through 15 games and is +1 on the year.
DC Pro Sports Report Three Stars of the Month:
1. Filip Forsberg (7Gms, 4G, 5A, 9P, +6)
2. Evgeny Kuznetsov (9Gms, 6G, 2A, 8P, E)
3. Christian Djoos (7Gms, 0G, 3A, 3P, -1)