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No mocking: A look at Capitals' draft plan


No mocking: A look at Capitals' draft plan

PITTSBURGH -- For better or for worse, before the end of tonight George McPhee will have shaped the future of the Capitals, if not with a new head coach then certainly with a draft pick or two.

While reports of Adam Oates moving ahead of Mike Haviland and Jon Cooper circulated in the hours before the NHL draft 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network, McPhee and his amateur scouts were busy putting the finishing touches on their draft list.

The Caps own the 11th and 16th picks of tonights draft, which is top-heavy with defensemen. Because of that, many draftniks have the Caps going for a blue liner with their 11th pick and a scoring forward at No. 16.

Seems like a sound strategy for a team that already has a stable of young defensemen but is short on high-end forwards.

So, assuming McPhee does not trade away his two picks, whom might the Caps select at No. 11 and No. 16.

At No. 11, here are a few options:

Matt Dumba, D, Red Deer WHL
The 6-foot, 183-pounder was named WHL Rookie of the Year after scoring 15 goals and adding 11 assists in 62 games. Described as a fearless hitter who can impact the game with his speed and offensive skills.

Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland WHL
The 6-foot, 181-pounder cranked out 59 points in 72 games and added 17 points in 22 playoff games. Described as a smart, composed defenseman who can play well at both ends of the rink but could use some more nastiness.

Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton WHL
The son of former NHL defenseman Paul Reinhart, Griffin is one of the biggest blue liners in the 2012 draft class at 6-foot-4, 202 pounds. Hes also one of the most physical and many believe hes just a year or two from being a dominant presence on an NHL power play and penalty kill. In his second year in Edmonton, Griffin had 12 goals, 24 assists and 38 penalty minutes in 58 games.

Jacob Trouba, D, U.S. Development Program
At 6-2, 193 pounds, Trouba might be the grittiest of all the high-end defensive prospects and although he wont light the lamp like Pouliot, he could turn out to be one of the most reliable two-way defenders of the draft.

Olli Maata, D, London OHL
Listed at 6-2, 198, Maata played for the London Knights last season and that could tip the scales in his favor with the Capitals. An all-round defenseman who uses his size well, Maata can lug the puck up the ice as well as any defenseman in the draft and plays a consistent game. A concussion late in the season could raise some concerns.

And at No. 16, here are a few more options.

Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener OHL
At 6-foot-3, 202 pounds many see the Czech center as a first- or second-line power forward who uses his body well to shield the puck and create offense. Hes been compared favorably to Rookie of the Year finalist Gabriel Landeskog.

Sebastien Collberg, RW Frolunda Sweden
A Swedish speedster, Collberg is often linked to the Capitals because of his comparisons to Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. Hes not small 5-foot 11, 176 pounds but his greatest asset is his quickness and speed and he is very solid in his defensive zone. He he;ped lead Sweden to gold in the World Juniors.

Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque USHL
Perhaps no one in the draft holds more intrigue than this 6-foot-2, 200-pound Latvian. He played for former NHLer Jim Montgomery, who compared his work ethic to Rod BrindAmours. With those kind of credentials, if Girgensons is still around at No. 16, the Caps should grab him.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

Evgeny Kuznetsov has been declared day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury, the Caps announced Saturday afternoon.

He will not play Sunday against the Flyers, marking the first time in four seasons that the durable 25-year-old center will have missed a game.

Kuznetsov, the Caps’ assists leader and first line pivot over the past week, was injured in the second period of Friday’s 6-3 win over the Islanders. On the play, he slashed on the arm by New York defenseman Thomas Hickey before he tumbled awkwardly into the end boards.


Kuznetsov did not return to the contest.

The Caps did not practice on Saturday as they made their way to Philadelphia, where they'll look to extend their winning streak to five games.  

The team, per usual, did not elaborate about the extent or nature of Kuznetsov’s injury. But it does seem to be a good sign that he was not listed as week-to-week—the designation the Caps typically reserve for more severe injuries. And with a two point lead on Pittsburgh in the Metro Division standings—and a game in hand—they can actually afford to be cautious with one of their most important players.


The injury does, however, come at a time when Kuznetsov appeared to be hitting his stride. Including the two assists he had racked up prior to leaving Friday’s game, Kuzy has amassed five goals and 11 assists in 10 games.    

Without Kuznetsov on Sunday, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle will be the team’s most experienced centers. Travis Boyd and/or Chandler Stephenson figure to be deployed as the fourth pivot.

Coach Barry Trotz is expected to meet with reporters prior to Sunday’s game. It’s possible he’ll shed some more light on Kuznetsov’s outlook at that time.

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

Braden Holtby has made Barry Trotz’s weekend very difficult, but in a good way.

Back-to-back games against the New York Islanders offered the Capitals an opportunity to play both Philipp Grubauer and Holtby. Grubauer stayed hot earning another win for Washington. On Friday, Holtby got his first start since March 6 and played very well.

“A win is good,” Holtby said after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable. Some things to build off of and things that I want to get better at. It was a step in the right direction.”


A 22 save effort on Friday was bookended by two big saves. The first shot Holtby faced was a turnover on the power play that led to a dangerous shorthanded scoring opportunity for John Tavares early in the first period. Then in the third, with the Capitals leading 5-3 and the Islanders trying to mount a comeback, Holtby turned aside a breakaway opportunity for star rookie Mathew Barzal.

“I thought he was pretty solid,” Trotz said. “He looked really confident.”

“I felt a lot better,” Holtby said. “Not that I was feeling horrible before, it's just you get refreshed. It's like anything, you have a week off work, a holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed.”

And that brings us to Sunday.

On Sunday, the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are a team in playoff position in desperate need of points after seven of their last eight games.

When asked on Wednesday who he thought would start Sunday’s game, Trotz said, “We're in a result business and we need some results so we'll see who is looking the sharpest and gives us the best chance to win.”

Both Grubauer and Holtby were impressive in their starts over the Islanders. You can’t argue Holtby is suddenly the hotter hand after one win considering how well Grubauer has played of late, but if Holtby remaisn the team’s No. 1, shouldn’t he get the next start after a strong winning performance?


Trotz was asked after the game who would start on Sunday after Holtby’s win.

“They're both playing well so I can't even answer that right now to be honest with you,” he said. “I do know that we have a number of games this week and whatever way go, obviously I'm going to sit down with the coaches and whatever way we go, I think they're both going to get some time this week.”

“I think you have to take it game-by-game,” Trotz added. “Bottom line is that you've got to make a decision and go with it and if your decision is that goalie A is a little hotter or you've just got a gut feel then you go with it and you have to live with it good or bad.”

So for now, it sounds as if we will see a rotation in net as Trotz continues evaluating which netminder gives the team the best chance to win in the playoffs. It is a tough position for the Caps’ bench boss, but, if both goalies continue to perform, having to choose between a hot Grubauer and a resurgent Holtby is a good problem to have and much preferable to having to choose between backup Grubauer and slumping Holtby.

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