In their 40-year history the Capitals have had 51 first-round draft picks and have used more of them on defensemen  than any other position.
Considering the Caps have taken only forwards in the first round over he past six years – Marcus Johansson in 2009, Evgeny Kuznetsov in 2010, Filip Forsberg and Tom Wilson in 2012, Andre Burakovsky in 2013, and Jakub Vrana in 2014 – and have two up-and-coming goaltending prospects in Philipp Grubauer and Pheonix Copley, the Caps could be aiming for a defenseman with the 22nd pick of this year’s draft, which will take place Friday night and Saturday morning at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
Last year, only five defensemen were taken in the first round of a forward-heavy draft, all of them within the first 19 selections. In 2013, nine defensemen were taken in the first round, eight of them within the first 18 picks. And in 2012, a total of 13 defensemen were taken in the first round, including 10 in the first 22 picks, with Pittsburgh’s Olli Maatta arguably the best of them at No. 22.
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Based on that sample size, it’s anyone’s guess which defensemen might be available if the Caps retain their first-round pick at No. 22 overall.
NHL Central Scouting has nine defensemen ranked among its top 30 prospects. Six of those defensemen are projected to be taken before the Caps pick at No. 22.
So, for the sake of argument, let’s take a look at five defensemen who could be available when the Caps pick at No. 22.
Oliver Kylington, Farjestad (SWE): Smallish by NHL standards [6-foot, 185 pounds] Kylington is an offensive defenseman who was ranked first among European skaters on Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings but fell to six after he ended the season with 10 goals in 45 games with three different Swedish teams. In all likelihood he’ll be gone before the Caps pick at No. 22.
Jeremy Roy, Sherbrooke (QMJHL): Ranked seventh among defensemen, Roy is another smallish offensive defenseman [6-foot, 188] who recorded 43 points [5 goals, 38 assists] in 46 games for Sherbrooke. A right-handed shot, Roy can play either side and is projected as an NHL power-play quarterback.
Gabriel Carlsson, Linkoping Jr. (SWE-JR): If the Caps are looking for the next Brooks Orpik [and they probably should be], Carlsson is a big Swede [6-foot-4], who needs to grow into his frame [183 pounds] before making an impact at the NHL level. He’s ranked second on Central Scouting’s list of European players. He lacks the offensive skills of players like Kylington and Roy, but the Caps will like his size and the fact he had a plus-21 rating with Linkoping's under-20 team.
Thomas Chabot, Saint John (QMJHL): If there is a run of defensemen taken before the Caps select at No. 22, many believe Chabot might be the best choice for the Caps. Described as a two-way defenseman Chabot led Saint John blue liners with 41 points [12 goals, 29 assists] and should be able to pack muscle onto a 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame.
Noah Juulsen, Everett (WHL): Central Scouting bumped Juulsen from No. 38 on its mid-term rankings to No. 22, where the Caps will be picking. A right shot, two-way defender Juulsen is 6-foot-1, 174 and is coming off a nine-goal, 52-point season in which he finished a plus-22.
For those piqued by positional analysis, here’s a composite list on the Caps’ first-round selections:
Rick Green, Robert Picard, Darren Veitch, Scott Stevens, Kevin Hatcher, John Slaney, Sergei Gonchar, Brendan Witt, Nolan Baumgartner, Nicholas Boynton, Steve Eminger, Jeff Schultz, Mike Green, Sasha Pokulok, Joe Finley, Karl Alzner, John Carlson
Alex Forsyth, Greg Carroll, Ryan Walter, Bob Carpenter, Reggie Savage, Pat Peake, Jason Allison, Alexandre Volchkov, Kris Beech, Brian Sutherby, Nicklas Backstrom, Anton Gustafson, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Filip Forsberg
Left Wings: 9
Yvon Corriveau, Jeff Greenlaw, Trevor Halverson, Alexander Kharlamov, Brad Church, Miika Elomo, Alexander Semin, Alex Ovechkin, Andre Burakovsky
Right Wings: 7
Tim Coulis, Mike Gartner, Jaroslav Svejkovsky, Boyd Gordon, Eric Fehr, Tom Wilson, Jakub Vrana
Olie Kolzig, Semyon Varlamov