With their seven picks in seven rounds, the Washington Capitals took three defensemen, two centers and two wingers in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft this weekend. They picked a player each from Sweden, Russia and the United States, and the other four were Canadian. The Caps' picks average in height of 6'0" and have an average weight of 190 lbs. The Caps went after speed and precision according to the available scouting reports of each player.
In the first round, the Caps took a two way centerman in Marcus Johansson from Sweden. I covered him in the last post as being a smart two-way player who some think will be the next Valtteri Filppula or even a Henrik Zetterberg. Johansson is a hard working player that looks to be a year or two away from playing inside the Caps' farm system.
On day two, round two, the Caps took (what some had speculated they would pick in the first round) Dmitri Orlov. This Russian player is a quick, puck-moving defenseman who makes excellent passes. In the third round the Caps took Cody Eakin who has tremendous speed. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native is a dynamite at chasing down loose pucks and works hard at both ends of the ice.
From there the scouting reports get fuzzy for the remaining players chosen in the Entry Draft. The Caps picked Patrick Wey, a Pittsburgh kid, in the fourth round. Wey will be attending and playing for Boston College this fall. In the fifth round, the Caps took Brett Flemming (no relation to Peggy), a defenseman that looks like he needs to gain some bulk (listed as 6'0" and 172 lbs.).
In the sixth and seventh rounds the Capitals picked Garrett Mitchell (yea! another Garrett) and Benjamin Casavant respectively. Both wingers (Mitchell a right winter, Casavant a left winger) and Canadian.
The Caps did not pick a goaltender in this year's draft.
Overall, I think the Caps did a solid job. They stuck to their game plan of building the organization up through youth. And why should it change, the Caps have seen significant changes and are credible threats for a Stanley Cup Championship. Under the direction of George McPhee, the Capitals have built in some deep talent. Just looking at the two farm clubs under the Caps, both have won their respective championships.
McPhee has stayed aggressive on the defensive front as well. While the Caps are bursting at the seams with defensemen, even keeping a few good ones in a Hershey Bears' uniform, they picked three of them in the draft. All of them still have some developing to do and are a year or two from entering the Capitals' system.
The Caps did not trade any of their picks this year, sticking to building a squad rather than looking for short term replacements. McPhee would rather use the free agent market to bring in what he needs now and continue to build the team he wants for the future.
If I had to grade what the Caps did for the '09 Draft, it would be a B+. They did very well with the picks that they had and didn't get involved in the itty bitty trading going on through out the weekend. The Caps filled the holes they had with draft picks and I think they did what they wanted with the selections they had.
Most often than not, the draft can be a crap shoot. Sometimes those players turn out for you, sometimes they are duds. It also has to do with how you develop those players through the minors up into the big club. The Caps have a good group of young players, it will be exciting to see them at the upcoming Development Camp the Caps will hold July 13.
Editor's note: The Capitals did make a minor trade, giving up Sami Lepisto for a pick in next year's draft to the Coyotes. The Caps did try to make a bid for a second line center, but may have to wait for free agency to pick up anything available. Lepisto was rumored to be on the trading block for well over 5 months now. Micheal Nylander is also rumored to be moved "soon" according to an anonymous source (so take it a face value).
Next up for the Caps... Free Agency July 1st.