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Revisiting the 2012 draft: Caps find value in volume of picks

Revisiting the 2012 draft: Caps find value in volume of picks

Every year as soon as the NHL draft is finished, everyone rushes to give their grades and their thoughts on what happened even though it is impossible to evaluate. Nobody knows how a team really did in a draft until time has passed. Players people project to be stars turn out to be busts while late-round picks end up surprising everybody.

As the Capitals prepare for the 2017 draft which will begin on Friday, let's take a look back five years to see how the 2012 draft panned out for Washington.

Filip Forsberg, forward, selected in the first round, 11th overall

Every Caps fan is of course well aware of the exploits of Forsberg whom the Caps traded for Martin Erat and Michael Latta, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he was a great draft pick. He has developed into one of Nashville's top offensive threats and certainly would be a top-six, probably top line player in Washington.

RELATED: Schmidt in Toronto? New report says Leafs interested

Tom Wilson, forward, selected in the first round, 16th overall

Wilson has not lived up to being the 16th overall pick offensively, but has proven himself to be an NHL player with his strong physical play. He also showed flashes of the potential the team saw in him in the 2017 postseason, especially in the first round against Toronto in which he was phenomenal. What makes him hard to evaluate as a draft pick is how his development was mishandled early in his career. Would he be a better player today if he had been sent back to his junior team in 2013-14 rather than stay in the NHL to play fewer than eight minutes a night? 

Chandler Stephenson, forward, selected in the third round, 77th overall

Stephenson has played in 13 NHL games and is still looking for his first point. This year could be a big year for him, however, as the Caps will be in need of depth forwards and I project he will spend the majority of the hockey season in Washington.

Thomas DiPauli, forward, selected in the fourth round, 100th overall

DiPauli was not signed by the Caps after the four-year deadline and became a free agent. He signed an entry-level deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the summer of 2016, but his first professional season was limited to just 21 games in the AHL due to injury. He has some offensive upside and was a very good college player in Notre Dame. Could he be the next rookie forward to shine with the Penguins?

Austin Wuthrich, forward, selected in the fourth round, 107th overall

After four years at Notre Dame, Wuthrich has spent the past two seasons in the ECHL.

Connor Carrick, defenseman, selected in the fifth round, 137th overall

Carrick was a surprise in training camp in 2013 and started the season with the Caps, playing in three games before being sent down to the AHL. He would be called up in January and stick with the team for the rest of the season. After that season, he struggled to stay in the Caps' lineup and did not play a single NHL game in 2014-15. He was traded to Toronto in 2016 as part of the package that sent Brooks Laich to the Leafs. Since then, he has been a regular in Toronto's lineup, but I have to wonder how much of that is due to a rebuilding defensive core. How big of a role Carrick will continue to have with the Leafs remains to be seen.

Riley Barber, forward, selected in the sixth round, 167th overall

Barber has played in three NHL games, but looks poised to compete for a spot with the Caps this year. His grinding style of play seems best suited for a fourth-line spot which is exactly where the Caps will need him.

Christian Djoos, defenseman, selected in the seventh round, 195th overall

Despite his small size, Djoos has shown he has NHL talent with a breakout year in Hershey last season. His size is the only thing really standing in his way and his chances of making his NHL debut this season got a heck of a lot better with Nate Schmidt leaving for Vegas in the expansion draft. General manager Brian MacLellan's comments seem to indicate both Djoos and Madison Bowey will be relied upon to have big roles next season. If he proves to be a reliable NHL defenseman, Djoos will be considered a late-round steal.

Jaynen Rissling, defenseman, selected in the seventh round, 197th overall

Rissling has spent the majority of his professional career in the ECHL. He played in five games in the AHL in 2014-15, but has not returned to that level since and seems unlikely to do so anytime soon.

Sergei Kostenko, goalie, selected in the seventh round, 203rd overall

Kostenko has played in nine ECHL games. He did not play at all in the 2013-14 season and has been playing in the VHL, Russia's minor league, ever since.

Other takeaways:

This draft reflects the enormity of the task the Caps face this season. Washington's first five picks in 2012 came before their first pick in 2017 (120). You can also see just how difficult it is to find value in the later rounds. All three of the Caps' first three picks have played in the NHL. Of the remaining seven players, only two have any NHL experience. The good news for Washington is that Stepehenson, Barber and Djoos are all likely to take on bigger roles this year.

Draft grade: B-

Amazingly, it still may be too early to fully grade this draft, but that's just the nature of hockey where it takes a great deal of time for most players to develop. What if Djoos turns into a top-four defenseman and Barber and Stephenson both thrive as bottom-six grinders? That would mean the Caps drafted six dependable NHL players. That is an impressive number of finds. One could also reasonably argue that Forsberg is the second best player in the entire draft. Snagging him 11th was a steal, even if he ended up thriving in Nashville rather than Washington. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Caps were no doubt hoping for more offensive production from Wilson when they took him 16th overall. While he may be an important piece in Washington, he has not delivered offensively.

What grade do you give the 2012 draft?

MORE CAPITALS: Mahoney suggests Djoos could compete for roster spot

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Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

Free Agency Bracket: Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s matchup:

Region: Fourth line forwards

Noel Acciari vs. Marcus Kruger

 

2018-19 stats

 

Noel Acciari (27 years old):72 games played with the Boston Bruins, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points, 12:59 TOI

 

Playoffs: 19 games played with the Boston Bruins, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, 13:10 TOI

 

Marcus Kruger (29 years old): 74 games played with the Chicago Blackhawks, 4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, 10:25 TOI

 

Playoffs: None

 

Hockey-Graph contract projections

 

Noel Acciari: 2 years, $1,180,934 cap hit

 

Marcus Kruger: 1 year, $861,030 cap hit

 

The case for Noel Acciari

Plays a lot bigger than his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame. A perfect fit at right wing on the fourth line for Washington. The native New Englander, who played at Providence, is a home-grown Bruin and might not want to leave home, but Boston also might not have the cap space to give an obvious fourth-line player a decent raise. The Capitals might not, either, but for now, they really only have to add in RFA Jakub Vrana’s new contract and figure out what they’re going to do with RFA Andre Burakovsky. 

 

Acciari is renowned for his character and toughness. He was a college captain for Providence and helped the Friars win an NCAA title in 2015. There’s never been a shot he’s unwilling to block. Acciari sustained a broken sternum in the second round against Columbus and a blocked shot with his right foot in Game 7 of the Cup Final left him in a walking boot.  

 

Acciari’s offensive upside is limited, but he did have 10 goals in 2017-18. He was a key player for the Bruins in the past two Stanley Cup playoffs and chipped in two goals in this year’s playoff run that came within a game of a championship. Acciari would help on Washington’s penalty kill, too. In 111:52 he was only on the ice for 11 power-play goals against. Only two Boston forwards were on the ice more short-handed.  

 

The case for Marcus Kruger

 

A different skill set here for the smaller Kruger (6-foot, 186 pounds). Don’t expect even double-digit goals from him, either. But Kruger will likely cost less than $1 million and can be a valuable penalty killer, where Washington needs help. That’s huge for a team that is now dealing with an $81.5 million salary cap, which is $1.5 million less than expected. Add in the overage bonus for defenseman Brooks Orpik from last season and you’re in trouble at just over $80 million.   

 

Kruger played seven seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks and one disappointing one with the Carolina Hurricanes. Kruger has plenty of Stanley Cup experience, too, playing for Chicago’s 2013 and 2015 Cup winners. He has 87 postseason games and a triple-overtime game-winner in the Western Conference Final to his name in 2015 in Game 2 of that series against Anaheim. 

 

A defensive specialist, only two Blackhawks forwards played more short-handed minutes than Kruger (132:46) last season. There is risk here. Kruger was traded to Carolina in 2017-18, but was placed on waivers after 48 games and spent the rest of the season in the AHL before being traded to Arizona and then back to Chicago. But part of that stemmed from how much he was making on a $3.08 million cap hit. At a bargain-basement price, Kruger is more palatable. 

 

Who’s your pick? Vote here.

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Ted Leonsis reflects on Capitals' induction to D.C. Sports Hall of Fame

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NBC Sports Washington

Ted Leonsis reflects on Capitals' induction to D.C. Sports Hall of Fame

Click "play" in the embedded podcast to listen to the Capitals Talk Podcast interview with Ted Leonsis and click here to subscribe to the podcast.

Just as the party seems to be ending, the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals are finding new ways to celebrate.

Sunday at Nationals Park, the Caps were honored with the "team of distinction" award in the D.C. sports hall of fame, the first-ever award of its kind.

“I think it just shows how this team connected with the fans and as many people have noted, this is one of the most divided cities in the world," Caps majority owner and president of Monumental Sports, Ted Leonsis said to Rob Carlin on the Capitals Talk podcast. "People can’t agree on anything, but they agreed on how much they loved, and how much fun they had and how proud they were that we won the Stanley Cup."

Founded in 1980, the D.C. sports hall of fame honors athletes, sports journalists and executives each year for excellence in D.C. sports. 2019 was the first time an entire team was formally recognized, fitting for the first-ever Stanley Cup championship in D.C.

"It [the honor] is a good capstone on that run," Leonsis said.

Listen to the full episode linked below.

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