Undrafted rookie O’Brien makes Caps after eye-opening camp

8 Comments

The most unlikely story from the preseason officially came from Washington on Tuesday, as forward Liam O’Brien — the twice-undrafted rookie from QMJHL Rouyn-Noranda — made the Capitals’ opening-night roster.

O’Brien, 20, had to earn an invite to Washington’s rookie camp this fall before getting the nod to attend main camp, where he proceeded to blow away the organization with his surprisingly well-rounded game. The physical part was there — he fought numerous times and recorded a team-high 20 hits — but O’Brien also showed some offensive flair, notching one goal and four points in five games.

On Monday, O’Brien signed a three-year, entry-level pact with the Caps, though it remained unclear if he’d start in the NHL or with AHL Hershey. But with Jay Beagle, Tom Wilson, Dmitry Orlov and Aaron Volpatti all opening the year on injured reserve, the Caps had the available roster spot to keep O’Brien for Thursday’s opener against the Habs.

“He’s a player that’s demanded to be noticed,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “There’s still lots of stuff he needs to learn in the game, but at the same time he’s come in with injuries to a number of people in that role. He’s got an opportunity and he’s learning.

“I give him a lot of credit. He’s making a big step and doing a good job for us. I’ve learned that obviously he’s fought some pretty tough guys in the preseason and he doesn’t show any fear.”