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Looking back at the Capitals’ 2017 NHL Draft: The lost draft

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Associated Press

Looking back at the Capitals’ 2017 NHL Draft: The lost draft

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.

Takeaways

Never. Trade. A. First. Round. Pick. For. A. Rental.

Ever.

Full stop.

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.

Ever.

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How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

The Washington Capitals remain undefeated in preseason play, thanks to Tom Wilson's clutch overtime goal and a Nicklas Backstrom bouncing saucer-pass-turned-shot

Saturday night, the Caps will get their first crack at the Carolina Hurricanes, who knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs last season. This game is also the first one that comes after the Caps whittled their roster down after the first round of cuts, which included Caps 2019 draft picks Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas.

The Caps will face the Hurricanes in the regular season on October 5 at Capital One Arena in their home opener.

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Saturday, September, 21, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

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I Am The Prospect: Capitals' prospect Alex Alexeyev is focused on one goal - making the roster

I Am The Prospect: Capitals' prospect Alex Alexeyev is focused on one goal - making the roster

Alex Alexeyev is the third Washington Capitals' prospect featured in NBC Sports Washington's I Am The Prospect series. Click here to check out more profiles from I am The Prospect.

Like most prospective NHL players, Alex Alexeyev dreams of the day he gets to lift the Stanley Cup over his head.

“It’s the best league in the world," Alexeyev said. "In childhood, they (are) always dreaming about raising that Stanley Cup. It’s my dream too.”

Standing at 6-foot, 3.5-inches tall, the 19-year-old from St. Petersburg, Russia, was the Capitals' last pick of the first round in the 2018 NHL Draft.

“He’s an untapped resource," Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said. "I was really impressed with him last year, seeing him for the first time."

Alexeyev's journey to the big leagues began three years ago when he made the move from Russia to North America, earning a spot on the top pair of the Red Deer Rebels' roster in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. It was there in March of this past year that he sustained a "scary" knee injury, almost certainly sidelining him for the time being.

“I was scared and I felt like something (was) definitely wrong with my knee but after some time where I figured out, everyone figured out that it’s not that scary,” Alexeyev said.

Alexeyev rebounded quickly, rehabbing his injury with the Capitals' AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.

“The injuries, it’s too bad, but players do get injured and that’s something that can’t be helped, Capitals assistant general manager, Ross Mahoney said. "But he had a really good first half of the season with the Red Deer and exceptional World Junior Tournament, the under-20 tournament.” 

Since then, Alexeyev was a standout at the Caps' Developmental Camp in June.

“He just looks like he’s at a different level than the rest of the kids both physically and ability to play," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. "He’s big, he’s strong, he’s got a good skill level, he moves the puck well, he seems to have a good attitude a good work ethic, I’m excited to see him in training camp and see his progression here as the year goes on.

With the loss of Capitals' veteran defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, Alexeyev is focused on making the Caps' 2019-20 roster.

“Alex is a really intelligent player," Mahoney said. "I think he’s got great vision on the ice. He has that ability also to be very patient with the puck.” 

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