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Looking back at the Capitals’ 2010 NHL Draft: Not much quantity, but plenty of quality

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Looking back at the Capitals’ 2010 NHL Draft: Not much quantity, but plenty of quality

The NHL Draft takes place on June 21 and 22. The Capitals hold the 25th overall pick and will be looking for future stars among all the hopeful prospects.

But just how successful has Washington been in finding those stars? How much value have the Caps found through the draft?

NBC Sports Washington will be looking at how Washington has drafted over the last 10 years. Today’s draft: 2010

Capitals picks

26th overall pick (first round): Evgeny Kuznetsov F

The Caps got a gem with this one. It was not the best season (or offseason thus far) for Kuznetsov, but that should not take away from the fact that Washington recognized the star potential in the young Russian and made a wise decision in drafting him. Kuznetsov was a major reason for the team’s run to the Stanley Cup and easily could have won the Conn Smythe Trophy with 12 goals and 20 assists in just 24 games.

56th overall pick (second round): Traded to the Minnesota Wild

Washington traded away this pick to Minnesota in exchange for Eric Belanger. Belanger played in 17 regular season games with the Caps and seven in the playoffs before signing with the Arizona Coyotes in the offseason.

Belanger did not have much of an impact on the ice for Washington, but he did have quite the memorable moment when a high-stick knocked out several of his teeth in a playoff game. Video even showed Belanger on the bench pulling out a tooth.

Minnesota used the pick to select forward Johan Larsson. He only played one game for the Wild, but has become a dependable depth player with the Buffalo Sabres.

86th overall pick (third round): Stanislav Galiev F

Galiev’s situation was a tough one. He had a very strong season with the Hershey Bears in 2014-15 with 25 goals and 20 assists in 67 games. That earned him a late-season call-up to Washington and it looked like the next season he would be a full-time NHL player. He struggled in the following season, however, but the team did not want to risk putting him on waivers. The result was hockey purgatory and Galiev played in only 24 games for the Caps that year. Another tough start the following season and Washington could no longer justify keeping him on the roster. He cleared waivers and was re-assigned to Hershey. Galiev went to the KHL in 2017-18 and has been playing their ever since 

112th overall pick (fourth round): Philipp Grubauer G

Goalies are always tough to predict. Most teams prefer not to draft goalies high knowing there will be starting caliber netminders available later in the draft. Grubuaer is a good example.

Grubauer was a great backup for Braden Holtby in Washington and looks poised to be the top starter for the Colorado Avalanche next season.

The Caps did a great job picking Grubauer in the fourth with the Coyotes’ (then the Phoenix Coyotes) fourth round pick. They acquired it from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the 116th and 146th overall picks which the Leafs used on Petter Granberg and Daniel Brodin. Definitely a good trade for Washington.

After 101 games with the Caps, Grubauer was traded at the 2018 draft with Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second-round pick. Washington used that pick to select forward Kody Clark.

116th overall pick (fourth round): Traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Caps got the 112th pick in the draft in exchange for this pick and the 146th overall pick. Toronto used this pick on defenseman Petter Granberg who ended up playing 45 games in the NHL and currently plays in the SHL.

142nd overall pick (fifth round): Caleb Herbert F

Washington acquired this pick from Phoenix in exchange for defenseman Sami Lepisto. While Lepisto was not great in his time with the Caps, Washington did not get the better of this deal as Lepisto would go on to play 96 more NHL games which is 96 more than Herbert played in his career. Lepisto was eventually packaged with Scottie Upshall and traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Rostislav Klesla and Dane Byers.

Herbert spent a few years going back and forth between the AHL and ECHL, but never managed to climb into the NHL ranks. According to Elite Prospects, he will be playing in Austria in 2019-20.

146th overall pick (fifth round): Traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs

This was the second pick the Caps traded to Toronto in the trade that eventually netted Washington Grubauer and the Leafs used it to select Brodin. Brodin’s career never advanced out of Europe and he has spent the last 10 seasons playing in the SHL.

176th overall pick (sixth round): Samuel Carrier F

This one was just a complete whiff. Carrier’s career never really advanced past juniors. After four seasons in the QMJHL, he played one season for McGill University and has spent the past five seasons playing very low level professional hockey in the LNAH.

206th overall pick (seventh round): Traded to the Carolina Hurricanes

Washington traded this pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Scott Walker. Walker had a minimal impact in Washington with only 10 total games with the Caps (9 in the regular season, one in the playoffs), but when you trade for a player and the asking price is a seventh-round pick, that is about what you would expect the return to be.

The Hurricanes traded the pick to Philadelphia for Jon Matsumoto who played in 13 games for Carolina with two goals. Believe it or not, Matsumoto was packaged with Mattias Lindstrom in 2012 by Carolina and shipped to Florida for A.J. Jenks and…Evgeny Dadonov. Unfortunately for Carolina, Dadonov never actually played for the Hurricanes as he signed with the KHL in the summer and did not return to the NHL until 2017. You have to tip your hat though to Carolina for taking Washington’s seventh round pick and turning it into Dadonov, even if they only got 35 AHL games out of him in Charlotte.

As for the actual pick, Philadelphia used it to select Ricard Blidstrand. After three seasons in the WHL, Blidstrand returned to his native Sweden and has played there ever since.


You can tell the Caps were in full-on win now mode given all the trades they were making. The good news is that the picks they traded away did not seem to amount to much.

This draft only yielded two NHL players for Washington plus a few games from Belanger and Walker. The good news is that the Caps made those two players really count with Kuznetsov and Grubauer. Trading away two picks to move up in the draft to snag Grubauer was an especially prescient move by general manager George McPhee. 

You also have to give McPhee credit for Kuznetsov. There were a lot of players taken way too high in this draft, notably Erik Gudbranson who went third overall. McPhee waited his turn and snagged one of the best players in the 2010 draft with Kuznetsov at 26.


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20 Burning Capitals Questions: Will Radko Gudas be an upgrade on the ice over Matt Niskanen?

20 Burning Capitals Questions: Will Radko Gudas be an upgrade on the ice over Matt Niskanen?

The long, endless summer is only halfway done. The Capitals last played a game on April 24 and will not play another one until Oct. 2.

But with free agency and the NHL Draft behind them now, the 2019-2020 roster is almost set and it won’t be long until players begin trickling back onto the ice in Arlington for informal workouts.

With that in mind, and given the roasting temperatures outside, for four weeks NBC Sports Washington will look at 20 burning questions facing the Capitals as they look to rebound from an early exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs, keep alive their Metropolitan Division title streak and get back to their championship form of 2018.

The list will look at potential individual milestones, roster questions, prospects who might help and star players with uncertain futures. Today, we look at the addition of defenseman Radko Gudas in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers that sent away Matt Niskanen after five seasons with Washington. Will that move pay dividends? Or lead to some regrets? 

The Capitals had a problem entering the summer. They needed to shed salary to make sure they could take care of their biggest priorities: Adding depth scoring, re-signing at least some of their own free agents and handing forward Jakub Vrana a decent raise. 

For months it was clear defenseman Matt Niskanen was the obvious player to go. He cost $5.75 million per year against the salary cap for the next two seasons. His play was admittedly not up to par for much of last season. 

Niskanen was a reliable second-pair defenseman for much of his time in Washington after signing a seven-year contract in 2014. He and veteran Brooks Orpik arrived from Pittsburgh that year and helped transform a blueline that had lost its way and, eventually, they were key members of the 2018 Stanley Cup championship team. But at 32 and with signs of decline obvious, the Capitals were ready to move on. 

On the surface, a straight flip between Gudas and Niskanen appeared to favor Philadelphia. Niskanen is the one who plays tough minutes against top competition. Gudas for a long time was considered little more than a goon on the ice, a player with an edge who repeatedly crossed the line with controversial hits and brought little to the table offensively. But while signs in 2018-19 showed Niskanen declining, Gudas was playing his way into a larger role with the Flyers. 

They are wildly different players. Niskanen at his best is still a defenseman who can make plays under pressure, skate the puck out of trouble and contribute offensively with 32 points or more his first three years in Washington and never fewer than 25. Gudas had 20 points last season and his career-best is 23.

But the questions isn’t whether you’d rather have had Matt Niskanen of 2014-2018. The question is who would you rather have at the current price for 2019-20? Gudas’ improvement at what he does well and Niskanen’s fade have made that a far more interesting question. 

Niskanen will cost Philadelphia $5.75 million for his age 32/33 and 33/34 seasons. The Flyers better hope he has a rebound season in him. And to be fair, Niskanen did play better the final two months of last season.

But Gudas costs the Capitals just $2.35 million this year because Philadelphia agreed to retain 30 percent of his salary. That savings of $3.4 million was enough to sign back free agent forward Carl Hagelin ($2.75 million) with money left over. That, in turn, allowed Washington to use its limited cap space to add free-agent forward Richard Panik ($2.75 million) and give Vrana his RFA pay bump at $3.35 million. They did have to trade Andre Burakovsky to Colorado instead of letting him sign his qualifying offer ($3.25 million).

But all of that financial flexibility started with Gudas. Is this a better blueline? In part that depends on Nick Jensen. The Capitals at least start the season believing Gudas can continue in the role best suited for him – an above-average third-pair defenseman. There is value in that. Advanced metrics clearly show it’s difficult for teams to get quality scoring chances with Gudas on the ice. Put that in context: He’s usually not on the ice against the opposition’s best. But he shouldn’t be with the Capitals, either. 

Jensen was the player acquired at the trade deadline and immediately given a four-year contract extension. He played the heavy minutes for Detroit last season against better competition and should settle into the second pair on the right side with Washington. If he can’t, that’s its own problem. But if Jensen is the player he was with the Red Wings then it limits Gudas’ exposure and he should thrive as a clear upgrade over the rotating second-year crew that played that position last year (Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey) before Jensen arrived just before the Feb. 25 trade deadline to pick up those minutes.  

The Capitals will still fret about his heavy penalty minutes and his known penchant for getting suspended. But a team that bled high-danger scoring chances even the year it won the Cup needed someone who could help change that. If it comes at an offensive cost, well, few teams are better positioned to withstand a few fewer goals and assists from a defenseman who hardly played on the power play anyway. That’s John Carlson’s gig and he is one of the NHL’s best at it.

It’s an interesting trade. Washington needed the financial flexibility this year and next when goalie Braden Holtby and center Nicklas Backstrom are free agents and will need raises. Gudas comes off the books and that will help. Niskanen would not have. 

At 29, Gudas is also almost four years younger. He doesn’t have the distinguished track record Niskanen does, but that’s not the player he’s replacing. Maybe Niskanen rebounds with the Flyers closer to his career norms and Gudas plays to his relatively limited ceiling or costs Washington games with penalties and/or a suspension. But given the Capitals’ roster as constructed, the cost and Niskanen’s age, it was probably a worthy gamble. 


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Caps invite fans to submit original art for new Capit-Ale design

Caps News

Caps invite fans to submit original art for new Capit-Ale design

A freshly brewed beer is making its way to Capital One Arena. 

In partnership with Devils Backbone Brewing Company, the Caps announced on Monday that starting in September, Capit-Ale India Pale Ale will be available for purchase at Capital One Arena. 

Capit-Ale will be available in two can designs. The first design features the Caps mural installation at L'Enfant Plaza, designed by the Washington, D.C., based artists BroCoLoco.

In efforts to spark excitement for the 2019-20 season, fans are invited to submit original art for a chance to be featured on the second can design.

Designs can be submitted from July 22-Oct.18 and will be selected in January 2020 by Devils Backbone Brewing Company and the Caps.

The winner will receive tickets to a Capitals game, a framed version of their art autographed by Caps players and have their art hung up in the Capital One  Arena Devils Backbone bar. 

The new 16 oz. hoppy brew will also be available on draft at select retail locations in the DMV area. 

This is not the first time Devils Backbone Brewing Company has partnered with a D.C. team. In 2018, they partnered with the Redskins to launch the #ATTR Ale at FedEx Field.