While the NHL Draft started in a frenzy of activity, the Caps waited for the right moment to make a move. They did so by picking up a familiar name to Capitals fans, Gustafsson. Son of the Cap great Bengt Gustafsson, Anton Gustafsson was drafted after the Caps made a trade to jump up to the 21st pick from New Jersey. They dealt the 23rd and 54th pick to draft the young talent.
Anton was scouted as a good talent but was placed lower on the draft list due to a partially herniated disc in his back. He was considered a draft wildcard due to his health. Gustafsson is a tall and strong two way player known for his playmaking ability with his good vision. He is still a few years away from a probable Caps debut, but should be in DC in July for development camp.
But the Caps didn't stop there. They then dealt Steve Eminger (who was rumored to be in trade talks before the draft) to Philly for the 29th draft pick. They took bruiser John Carlson for their acquired draft pick. Eminger, who found himself in the doghouse for most of the season, finally gets what he wanted: a trade. In return they get a second first round pick and Carlson and picked up a 3rd round pick as well.
Carlson is a big, tall, strong defenseman that plays with a hard shot and is a hard skater. He will return to his junior team the London Knights next season. He brings some skill on the power play with his hard heavy shot, and doesn't shy from being physical. Carlson was expected to take higher (some experts had him higher around 20 -22), but settled in for a 29th pick overall.
This year's draft saw an influx of defensemen signed for any one draft in some time.
As the Caps go, they did pretty well for what GM George McPhee had to deal with. He was able to tie up a lose end in Eminger and getting him to a team that may use him more than here. He still has a heavy contract for Ben Clymer and still has to finish the draft weekend and sign a slew of free agents, both restricted and unrestricted. The Caps have now made 15 first-round picks in the last seven years, four more than any other NHL team.
A special thanks to Japers' Rink that hosted a live chat throughout the draft. It was fun to see all the Caps bloggers initial reactions to each pick, whether it was the Caps' pick or not. To be honest though I had a bit of a headache trying to keep up with everyone. I wonder who I will have to bribe to get on that panel?