(Marc Smith/DiscoverMooseJaw.com) Tanner Jeannot and Dmitri Zaitsev are heading to Washington Capitals’ camp early next week with the same goal in mind.
The two members of the Moose Jaw Warriors are hoping to show well enough to earn an NHL contract.
Zaitsev was a seventh round pick by the Capitals in 2016, while Jeannot is a camp invite, who is attending his first training camp with Washington after previously attending camp with the Minnesota Wild.
“I’m so excited,” said Zaitsev before leaving for Washington, D.C. “This is my second year going to this camp and I’m going to try to be better than I was last year.”
Zaitsev is entering his second season with the Warriors after putting together a strong rookie season in the WHL that saw him register two goals and 20 points in 70 games.
The six-foot-one, 193-pound defenceman showed huge improvements in his game over the course of last season and he said he’s looking to put those on display this week with the Capitals.
“It’s a new level, more speed and a bit harder playing at the NHL level,” said Zaitsev.
“Going to this camp will help me improve.”
Jeannot is coming off another career year with the Warriors in 2016-17 as he pushed his goal total from 17 to 19 and point total from 33 to 52 while playing in one less game.
After attending the Capitals development camp this summer, Jeannot said he won’t be looking to do anything out of character during their rookie camp, just play his game.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” he said. “They invited me for a reason, so I’ll just go play my game and try to make a difference out there and that’s all I can do.”
As a 20-year-old, Jeannot is eligible to play in the American Hockey League this season if he were to sign.
While he’s focused on having a successful season with the Warriors, Jeannot said he’s also going to Washington looking to advance his hockey career.
“Every time you go to an NHL camp, you learn something, so each time I go I just want to learn more and bring it back here to share it with the younger guys, give them a chance to do it themselves,” he said.
“If something happens for myself, that’s good, but if I’m back here, I’ll just try to apply what I learned to my game here and take this team deep into the playoffs.”
Zaitsev will have a big role with the Warriors this season as he’ll slot into the team’s top-four defensive unit.
He said he’s more comfortable heading into his second season in Moose Jaw.
“I know all the guys now and it’s easier to understand how I need to play in the game,” he said.
“I worked really hard (over the summer) with my coach and I went to a camp with (Pavel) Datsyuk. That was a challenge.”
Jeannot, Zaitsev and the Capitals were scheduled to head to a four-team prospect tournament in Florida to compete against Brett Howden, Oleg Sosunov and the Tampa Bay Lightning, as well as the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers, but the tournament has been cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.
The Capitals will instead be hosting their rookie camp in the D.C. area over the next week with main camp scheduled to start next Friday.