WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recent times the NHL Entry Draft has been very kind to the Washington Capitals. Players like John Carlson, Mike Green, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Michal Neuvirth, Braden Holtby and many others have had their names called out by Capitals General Manager George McPhee.
Indeed the franchise player, and current NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin, pulled on the black and gold sweater of the Capitals hockey team way back in 2004 was the first player taken in that year’s draft class.
Since the team officially removed the “rebuilding” tag, they have spent many drafts picking low down in the first round and as such haven’t picked a big name player, even if they pick at all. In 2011 Washington traded their first round choice for the services of forward Troy Brouwer from the newly crowned Chicago Blackhawks. Is that a similar sign for the Caps this year?
Washington does have a history of picking late in the draft and picking players who can play in the NHL after only a short period of time in the minors. Defenseman Mike Green was selected 29th overall in 2004 and in 2009 the Capitals picked centermen Marcus Johansson, who took up his seat on Washington’s bench less than a year since being drafted. More recently the Caps held the 16th overall selection in last years’ draft and called right winger Tom Wilson to the podium. Again, Wilson ended the season skating on NHL ice.
So what about this year’s draft?
Only the Vancouver Canucks won their division despite having a worst goal differential then the Capitals but with the likes of Green, Carlson, Karl Alzner and Jack Hillen lead the blueline so Washington can focus more on the offensive side of the rink.
In terms of acquiring a player in the draft that would make the jump to the NHL next season Washington doesn’t have to worry about that. The forwards seems to be pretty settled up front so they can look at stacking their AHL affiliate Hershey Bears with offensive players who could, in a few years, make the jump to the NHL level.
The one name that jumps out at you if you are a Caps fan, of the ones that are left in PHN’s Mock Draft, is Zach Nastasiuk. The Canadian right winger played in the Ontario Hockey League last season for the Owen Sound Attack and assisted the Attack to the Western Conference Semi-Finals with 4 goals and 11 points.
During the regular season Nastasiuk recorded 40 points and split points equally between goals and assists. Washington have, at both the NHL and AHL level, a very centre heavy roster so the addition of a right winger who knows where the goal is but also isn’t afraid to pass the puck would be a great addition to the Caps.
So, with that said, expect to hear the following announcement come draft day from McPhee.
“With the 23rd pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the Washington Capitals select Zach Nastasiuk, from the Ontario Hockey League’s Owen Sound Attack.”