With the NHL draft scheduled on Friday and Saturday in Buffalo’s First Niagara Center, we’re spending this week looking back at how the Caps performed in their previous seven drafts. Today, 2014:
2014 Draft – Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
CAPITALS DRAFT SELECTIONS
First round (13th overall) – Jakub Vrana, RW
Holding a pick in the top half of the first round for just the second time in seven years, the Caps went for speedy right wing Jakub Vrana and it didn’t take long for them to be impressed by the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Czech. “His skill set is as good as it gets,” Hershey Bears coach Troy Mann said after seeing Vrana at development camp. “He’s certainly going to play for the Caps at some point. … He’s going to be a pro for a long time.” Vrana, 20, turned pro this season and was nearly a point-a-game player for the Hershey Bears when he was healthy, netting 16 goals and 18 assists in 36 games with the Bears. A broken wrist cut that rookie season in half but Vrana resumed his scoring in the playoffs, where he posted eight goals and six assists and a plus-8 rating in 21 playoff games. Vrana’s speed and quick release should put him in the NHL, possibly as early as next season.
Second round (39th overall) – Vitek Vanecek, G
At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Vanecek does not possess outstanding size, but he’s lightning quick and the Capitals saw the need for him to play in North America to begin his development into the pro game. Vanecek played one full season in the Czech League before coming to North America last season and playing 32 games for South Carolina in the ECHL. Vanecek went 18-7-6 for the Stringrays with a 2.03 GAA and .917 save percentage. He also won his only game for the Bear and could get a full-time role with Hershey next season.
Third round (89th overall) – Nathan Walker, LW
This should be a telling (and perhaps historic) season for Walker, who could become the first Australian-born player to play in the NHL. Walker, 22, was passed over in the NHL’s previous two drafts, but the Capitals had invited him to training camp and liked his offensive upside and determination on the puck. Walker had a strong season in Hershey this year, putting up 17 goals and 24 assists in 73 games for the Bears. His production dropped off in the post-season with two goals and three assists, raising concerns over whether he has the body (5-foot-8, 186 pounds) to take regular shifts in the NHL.
Fourth round (104th overall) – Traded to the New York Rangers as the result of a trade that sent a third-round pick (89th overall) to the Capitals in exchange for Chicago's fourth-round pick and this pick.
Fifth round (134th overall) – Shane Gersich, C
After a strong season (27 goals, 49 assists in 52 games) with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, Gersich attended the University of North Dakota in 2015-16, netting nine goals and two assists in 37 games as a freshman.
Sixth round (159th overall) – Steven Spinner, RW
Like Gersich, Spinner also played one season in Omaha, recording 22 goals and 42 points in 56 games the year after being drafted by the Caps. He spent this past season at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, where he managed five goals and 11 points in 33 games.
Seventh round (194th overall) - Kevin Elgestal, RW
Elgestal, 20, has spent the past two seasons in Sweden, where this season he recorded three goals and two assists in 27 games for Vita Hasten of the Swedish 1 League.