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: 2018
31st overall pick (1st round): Alex Alexeyev
Despite having to wait for the final pick of the first round, Washington got a steal in Alexeyev who looks like he can be a top pairing NHL defenseman.
Alexeyev is a smart, mature player with good mobility. He has good vision and poise on both ends of the ice, is a talented puck-handler and has good size. The only real concern for him is his durability as injuries have limited him to fewer than 50 games in all three of his seasons in the WHL.
There is good news on the injury front, however. Alexeyev suffered a scary looking knee injury after a knee-on-knee collision that ended his season in Red Deer. He had to be taken off in a stretcher. This happened three months ago in March. Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said on Thursday however that Alexeyev had avoided serious injury and would participate in the team’s development camp starting on Tuesday.
“[Alexeyev’s] healthy,” MacLellan said. “I don't think it was as bad as initially expected. He'll be at development camp here and fully healthy.”
46th overall pick (2nd round): Martin Fehervary D
The Caps traded Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils in 2017 for a second and a third-round pick. Washington traded the third-round pick away for Michal Kempny, but kept the second-round pick and used it to select Fehervary.
This is a player the team is very excited about and who they quickly signed to an entry-level deal after drafting him. He is a very fast skater who uses his speed to cover opponents closely and can use his body and stick to break up plays. He is seen as a high-character player and a future leader. He was originally seen primarily as a defensive shutdown player, but showed there may be more offensive upside to his game than previously thought with five points in five games at the World Junior Championships.
47th overall pick (2nd round): Kody Clark F
The Caps snagged a second pick in the second round in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik. Washington used the pick to select Clark, the highest picked forward by the Caps since Jakub Vrana in 2014.
That puts a lot of undue pressure on Clark who most likely projects as a third-line winger in the NHL, though Ross Mahoney told me in January he was hopeful he could potentially develop into a second-liner.
Clark scored 17 goals and 29 assists in 57 games in the OHL last season. He is not going to be a 30-goal scorer in the pros, but he is a hard-working, grind it out sort of player who could be in the 15-20 goal range in the right situation. Perhaps aware of this, Clark is working to add more of a physical edge to his game.
62nd overall pick (2nd round): Traded
The Caps traded away two second-round draft picks to the Montreal Canadiens for Lars Eller. The first was for 2017, this was the second. Montreal traded the pick to the Edmonton Oilers who selected goalie Olivier Rodrigue. The Oilers signed him to an entry-level deal in May so they see something in him. His numbers in the QMJHL have been average to above average, but he was great in the World Juniors Under 18 tournament for Team Canada with a 1.33 GAA and .949 save percentage in three games.
93rd overall pick (3rd round): Riley Sutter F
Sutter was limited to 38 games this past season in the WHL by an injury, but overall he has had a successful junior career with the Everett Silvertips and is hopeful he will be in Hershey next season. He is a power forward primarily.
124th overall pick (4th round): Mitchell Gibson G
Gibson played last season in the USHL and will be headed to Harvard in the fall to begin his collegiate career. We will have a better sense of what he projects to be there.
155th overall pick (5th round): Traded
The Caps traded this pick to the Minnesota Wild in June 2017 in order to get Tyler Graovac and expose him in the expansion draft. Rules stipulated you had to expose a certain number of forwards with a certain level of experience and the Caps needed one more or they would risk having to expose a player from their core who they really did not want to lose.
Minnesota took the pick and selected forward Damien Giroux who, as captain of the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL, scored 30 goals and 21 assists last season.
161st overall pick (6th round): Alex Kannok-Leipert D
The Caps traded up to get Kannok-Leipert, swapping sixth-round picks with the Vancouver Canucks and sending an additional sixth-round pick in 2019 to Vancouver. He had a very good season in the WHL and is primarily a physical stay-at-home defenseman. He has been praised for his leadership and intangibles and could potentially be the team captain in 2019.
186th overall pick (6th round): Traded
In the trade with Vancouver, the Canucks used this pick to select forward Artyom Manukyan. In 62 games in the KHL last season, Manukyan scored three goals and 12 assists. He was very productive in the MHL, but at the higher level he has struggled so there does not appear to be much NHL upside for him.
217th overall pick (7th round): Eric Florchuk F
As the Stanley Cup champs, the Caps had the final pick in the draft and made Florchuk the NHL’s Mr. Irrelevant for 2018. He scored 21 goals and 29 assists in 68 games in the WHL last seasons and will look to build on that in 2019-20.
Obviously it is going to take a while before we know just how good of a draft this was for Washington, but the early projections are good. Alexeyev and Fehervary both look like top-four defensemen and that alone will make this a great draft if both pan out.
In addition, I could potentially see Clark and Sutter have depth roles one day after a few more years of development.
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