In today's edition we will take an in-depth look at Hershey rookies that are turning heads early this season.
On the Rise
Francois Bouchard - Center - Drafted 2nd Round, 35th Overall in 2006 Entry Draft
Francois is the younger brother of the Minnesota Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and it shows as they both play a very similar game.
Francois tore through the QMJHL with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, putting up back to back 100 point seasons in 2005 and 2006. Last season was a bit of a drop off as he only managed 92, but he still lead his team in points.
This season he has made the jump to the AHL and is showing no worse for wear putting up 14 points in 16 games.
Bouchard is considered a shifty play making winger who can also find the net. His future with the Capitals is still atleast a full year away, but his ability to produce at every level he has played have the Capitals high on Bouchard's future.
Oskar Osala - Left wing - Drafted 4th Round, 97th Overall in 2006 Entry Draft
Continuing with the theme of 2006 draftees, Oskar Osala is a breath of fresh air in the Capitals orginization. Selected out of Missisauga of the OHL, the rugged Finn brings a blend of grit and a set of gifted hands.
Washington has very little on the radar in terms of a power forward, and they are hoping that Osala can fill that role, while still contributing to the score sheet on a consistent basis.
After his junior career had been completed, he jetted back to Finland where he played a season with the Espoo Blues, where he earned rookie of the year honors as he was among his team leaders in points scored.
This year he has returned to North America and since joining the Hershey Bears has set the AHL ablaze, leading his team in goals with 13, and being nominated as AHL Player of the Week for the week ending November 2, 2008.
With any luck, Capitals fans could see Osala "rocking the red" as early as next season, though with the teams financial leverage being tight, it could take a little longer.
Matthieu Perreault - Center - Drafted 6th Round, 177th Overall in 2006 Entry Draft
The story of Matthieu Perreault's journey at the 2006 draft is one that not many players share. Matthieu made the cross country trip to Vancouver where he sat agonizing for 2 full days on whether or not he would be selected. Finally with their last selection in the draft, the Washington Capitals approached Perreault and informed him that they would be selecting him 177th overall.
Needless to say he has returned the favor tenfold and is another of Washington's many prospects who will be pushing for a roster spot in the near future.
Perreault, like Bouchard, played his junior hockey in the QMJHL, where he also put up two consecutive 100 point seasons with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
He is listed at 5'9", but in fact, is probably a tad smaller, which some consider to be a knock against him. However, he is proving that making the jump to professional hockey is not as difficult as the pundits predicted it would be for a player his size.
Perreault has assumed the role of set up man, playing a very Adam Oates-esque style of game, while ranking third on the Bears leaders in assists.
His speed isn't quite at the caliber of Chris Bourque's but he comes a close second, which is very adventageous for his style of play.
In the past he has had great success centering a line with Francois Bouchard, and with Oskar Osala on his left wing, you could potentially see this line assemble in D.C. in the next coming years.
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