The Capitals have the 25th pick in the first-round of the NHL Draft on Friday. While there has been much speculation that Washington could move up or down in the draft, they also must prepare for the possibility of keeping the pick and finding the best available player at that point. If they do keep the pick, here are six players who could fall to them.
F Philip Tomasino (Niagara, OHL)
Most draft projections have Tomasino going long before he reaches the Caps, but the unexpected can happen in the draft and sometimes players fall. If there is mid-round forward who drops, Tomasino would likely be the guy and the Caps would be smart to pounce on him.
Tomasino could drop because of his size as he is just 6-foot, 183 pounds. Washington has not been shy in the past about drafting an undersized player and it is also important to keep in mind that Tomasino is one of youngest draft-eligible forwards and does not turn 18 until July 28. He can easily bulk up with age.
Tomasino racked up 72 points in 67 games in the OHL this past season, representing a 48-point improvement from the previous year. His skating and speed are exceptional which are highly coveted attributes by the Caps.
F Bobby Brink (Sioux City, USHL)
The biggest need in the draft for Washington is high-end offensive talent and Brink certainly fits the bill. He is not the best skater, but late in the first-round, you expect there to be negatives to a player’s skillset. What he lacks in skating he makes up for in hockey IQ, vision and pure offensive ability.
Brink scored 35 goals and 33 assists in 43 games in the USHL this past season. With 1.58 points per game, he averaged the most among any player with at least 25 games. He will play for the University of Denver in the fall.
F Connor McMichael (London, OHL)
McMichael is another undersized forward at just under 6-foot, 182 pounds. If he were a couple of inches taller and 10-15 pounds heavier, his skill would make him a top-10 pick.
With the London Knights, McMichael became the go-to player on offense with 36 goals and 36 assists in 67 games. His shot is deceptive, but his greatest attribute is his hockey IQ. He understands and sees the game very well. You can help a player bulk up, but it is hard to develop the same kind of vision he possesses.
F Samuel Poulin (Sherbrooke, QMJHL)
At 18, Poulin is already 6-foot-1, 212 pounds. He is not just a bruiser, however, as he still put up 29 goals and 47 assists in the QMJHL last season. He is also the son for former NHLer Patrick Poulin.
A hard-working, big-bodied forward with high offensive upside? Yeah, that sounds like a good fit for the Caps.
F Brett Leason (Prince Albert, WHL)
Leason will be one of the older players in the draft at 20. He was passed over in the past two drafts and appears to be a bit of a late-bloomer. His skating has improved tremendously over the past year which helped his overall game. With 36 goals and 53 points last season, Leason improved his point total by a whopping 57 points from the year before.
The route that he took the NHL by going from undrafted for two years to first-round talent will likely scare off some teams and 25 may ultimately be a bit high for Leason. The Caps, however, like taking players from the WHL and Leason’s extra maturity and size (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) could help him reach the NHL sooner than many of the other 17, 18-year-olds in the draft. That would appeal to the Caps who are in desperate need of depth offense but don’t have the cap room to add much in free agency.
D Thomas Harley (Mississauga, OHL)
The obvious need for the Caps is at forward and if they reach the 25th pick and the best players on the board are all defensemen, the most likely scenario is that they would trade back. They may make an exception depending on which defenseman falls to them, however. If Harley is still on the board at 25, I would not be surprised to see MacLellan go for it.
Harley played in all situation for Mississauga and has an uncanny ability to find shooting and passing lanes in the offensive zone which means he could quarterback the power play some day. He is also very dependable in his own zone and has the size, skill and mobility to be an NHL defenseman despite the fact that he does not turn 18 until August.
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