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: 2017
27th overall pick (1st round): Traded
As part of the trade for Kevin Shattenkirk, the Caps sent their first-round pick to the St. Louis Blues. The Blues, in turn, traded the pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in a package that netted them Brayden Schenn. The Flyers used the pick to select forward Morgan Frost. Frost just wrapped up a pretty impressive OHL career where he scored 221 combined points in the past two seasons in just 125 games.
58th overall pick (2nd round): Traded
Washington sent two second-round picks to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Lars Eller. The Canadiens used this pick on forward Joni Ikonen, who Montreal placed on unconditional waivers in May, thus releasing his rights. Eller has played in 243 games with the Caps with 43 goals and 56 assists. He is under contract through the 2022-23 season and scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal for Washington in 2018.
89th overall pick (3rd round): Traded
The Caps sent a third-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for defenseman Mike Weber. This would prove to be Weber’s last NHL season. As a rental, he played in just 10 regular season games for Washington and two playoff games.
The trade seems to have worked out for Buffalo as the Sabres selected defenseman Oskari Laaksonen who has looked impressive in Finland and is progressing nicely towards becoming an NHL player in the near future.
120th overall pick (4th round): Tobias Geisser D
Washington actually kept this pick and took a real live player with it! They potentially got a good one as well in Geisser who has the tools to be an NHL player, it is just a matter of putting it all together.
Geisser is compared to his fellow countryman Jonas Siegenthaler in that he is a tremendous skater despite his large frame. At 6-foot-4, 201 pounds, Geisser needs to take advantage of his size and learn to play a more physical game. He is very smart in his own end but has the skills to be more of a two-way player if he can develop more offensively.
One positive in his development is that Geisser elected to come to North American and play in Hershey last season rather than stay in Europe. At 19, he was already playing in the AHL. That should help speed along his development and in a year he could be competing to make the NHL roster.
151st overall pick (5th round): Sebastian Walfridsson, D
Walfridsson has failed to stand out while playing in Sweden. A future in the NHL feels like a longshot at this point, especially with Washington considering how many quality defensive prospects the team has.
182nd overall pick (6th round): Benton Maass D
This looked like a savvy pick by Brian MacLellan initially. Maass had just finished his final year in high school when he was selected by the Caps. He had not yet even played a year of college hockey. His freshman year in New Hampshire made you take notice of him as he stepped into a starting role and scored four goals and 13 assists in 36 games as a defenseman. An injury limited his playing time and production in his sophomore year where he scored only one goal and five assists in 30 games.
Maass is a mobile, two-way defenseman with good size, but has not shown enough yet to make you think he could be an NHL player. He is only 20, but this will be his junior season at New Hampshire. That is a big year for college players considering the rule that allows them to become free agents after four years in college. If a team thinks a player has NHL potential, they often try to sign him to an entry-level contract after his junior season to avoid seeing him go back to college for a fourth year and potentially reach free agency the following summer. Maass has shown some potential, but not nearly enough yet for Washington to consider trying to coax him to the pros next year.
213th overall pick (7th round): Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen F
Roykas-Marthinsen was a productive scorer in Swedish junior hockey and had a successful first season in the WHL scoring 13 goals and 16 assists in 62 games. The NHL may be a bit of a stretch for him, but he played well enough to at least show it is too early to write him off. That’s not a bad outlook for a seventh rounder.
Never. Trade. A. First. Round. Pick. For. A. Rental.
Shattenkirk played 19 games for the Caps and an additional 13 in the playoffs. He was not a good fit which is the risk you run with a rental. You just do not know how a player will fit in with a team when you add him mid-season, especially with so little time before the playoffs.
And if you are saying to yourself, “this trade looks bad because Shattenkirk didn’t work” let me clarify. If the only way you can justify a trade is to say you won’t care about the cost if you win the Stanley Cup, that is a bad trade. Period. Don’t do it.
Value in the NHL draft is very limited. You cannot give up the chance to pick up an NHL player in the first round, maybe the only NHL player you will get in a draft, for 32 games from a veteran. That is not enough.
Now, having said all of that, for a team that did not draft until the fourth round, Washington did pretty well in this draft. Geisser has real NHL potential and there may be some potential in Maass as well if he continues on the trajectory he was on after his freshman season.
You also can’t argue with Washington giving up its second-rounder for Eller. Solid work there.
But the point about the first round remains. Go back and look at the stats for Frost who was taken by the Flyers with the Caps’ pick. That is a player with more value than 32 games from Shattenkirk.
Never. Trade. A. First. Round. Pick. For. A. Rental.
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