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How the Capitals drafted: 2014

How the Capitals drafted: 2014

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.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

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USA TODAY Sports

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.​

A quick start

Strong stars go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a team in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the first.

Andre Burakovsky snapping second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked at points this season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo just would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play form the office. He would later add a deflection goal late to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.

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3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

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3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.

Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 893 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first was a power play goal from the office. No need for a one-timer on this one, as the Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner. He added a late 

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net. It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole. Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but could not slow him down at all.