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: 2013
23rd overall pick (first round): Andre Burakovsky F
Even after five seasons in the NHL, it is hard to know what to make of Burakovsky. There are many times in which he flashes the skill that made him a first-round pick. For every game he plays like that, there is another one where you barely notice he is on the ice. Inconsistency has completely plagued his career.
Burakovsky has played in 328 games for Washington with 62 goals and 83 assists. When you look at the players taken after Burakovsky in the first round (Hunter Shinkaruk, Michael McCarron, Shea Theodore, Marko Dano, Morgan Klimchuk, Jason Dickinson, Ryan Hartman) it still looks like a good pick for Washington. Burakovsky is arguably the best of that bunch. No one except Theodore really comes close. But if you had told the Caps after drafting Burakovsky that after five seasons his career-highs would be 17 goals and 38 points, I think general manager George McPhee would have been disappointed by that.
53rd overall pick (second round): Madison Bowey D
Bowey was a highly touted prospect for several years as he played his way through the WHL and AHL. When he finally made it to the NHL, he struggled to stay in the Caps’ lineup. These are always tricky situations in that when you have a player ready for the NHL, you don’t want to keep him in the minors. But if he can’t make the lineup, it doesn’t do him any good to continue sitting him.
Rather than watch Bowey’s value decrease, MacLellan instead elected to trade him and a second-round pick to the Detroit Red Wings for defenseman Nick Jensen and a fifth-round pick at the 2019 trade deadline.
Bowey played in 84 total games for Washington with one goal and 17 assists.
61st overall pick (second round): Zach Sanford F
This pick belonged to the Chicago Blackhawks who traded it to the Winnipeg Jets. The Caps acquired it in exchange for Washington’s third and fourth round picks plus a fifth from the Calgary Flames they had acquired in the Dennis Wideman trade. All three picks were for the 2013 draft.
Sanford played in only 26 games with the Caps in his rookie season before general manager Brian MacLellan packaged him with Brad Malone, a first round pick and a conditional second for Kevin Shattenkirk and Pheonix Copley. Shattenkirk was an expensive rental, he didn’t fit in well and yet again, Washington was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. Copley is now the current backup for Braden Holtby though so at least there’s that.
84th overall pick (third round): Traded to the Winnipeg Jets
This pick was traded to Winnipeg for the 61st overall pick that netted them Sanford. The Jets selected forward Jimmy Lodge with the pick. He has spent his career cycling between the AHL and ECHL. He has not yet played in the NHL.
114th pick (fourth round): Traded to the Winnipeg Jets
This was another pick included in the Winnipeg trade. The Jets took defenseman Jan Kostalek. He played junior hockey in the QMJHL, progressed to the AHL, but returned to his native country of the Czech Republic last season having never played in the NHL.
127th overall pick (fifth round): Acquired from the Calgary Flames, traded to the Winnipeg Jets
This was the third and final pick the Caps included in the Winnipeg trade. The Jets took defenseman Tucker Poolman who actually did reach the NHL and played 24 games for Winnipeg in the 2017-18 season. He has not been back since.
144th overall pick (fifth round): Blake Heinrich D
Heinrich went from the WHL to the University of Manitoba for two years and played in the ECHL in the 2018-19 season.
174th overall pick (sixth round): Brian Pinho C
Pinho had a tremendous career in Providence and, after four years of college hockey, still elected to sign with the Caps rather than holding out for free agency. His first professional season came in 2018-19 which he spent with the Hershey Bears in the AHL. In 73 games, he scored four goals and eight assists. He seems like a better fit for the AHL than NHL at this point and will likely spend the majority of his career there.
204th overall pick (seventh round): Tyler Lewington D
After several years in the AHL, Lewington played in two games for the Caps in the 2018-19 season and actually recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist and a fight in one game. As exciting as that performance was, his ceiling looks to be as a No. 7 at the NHL level. Depending on what happens this offseason for the Caps, he could end up being just that for Washington next season.
Six years later, it is still unclear what type of player Burakovsky is ultimately going to be. Will he finally break through and become that top-six player his talent says he should be?
At this point, it is fair to say the Caps won the trade with Winnipeg. Washington got Sanford in exchange for three draft picks that amounted to only 24 total NHL games. Caps fans may be a bit bitter about Sanford considering they just watched him help the St. Louis Blues win a Stanley Cup while the Caps ended up with a total bust of a trade in the Shattenkirk deal. But there are two things to keep in mind. First, the trade was not a total bust as it helped the team reacquire Copley. Second, the Caps got T.J. Oshie from St. Louis for a package that included Copley, Troy Brouwer and a third-round pick so Washington still came out on top in the end.
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