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
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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