George McPhee is excited to draft or something. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

On Sunday, the NHL Draft will be held in Newark, New Jersey. Yesterday, I looked at the trade value of the Caps first-round pick (23rd overall) and why it could be smart to trade down from their current position. Today, I present the players the Caps could select if they decide to use the first-round pick in this extremely deep draft.

Эту статью также можно прочитать на русском в блоге “Грустная Игуана” на Sports.ru.

Programming note: This post is also available in Russian on the “Sad Iguana” blog over at Sports.ru.


Ryan Hartman, C/RW, Plymouth, OHL, 5’11″, 187 lbs

Rankings: Bob McKenzie: 26, Craig Button: 26, The Hockey News: 28, Future Considerations: 22

Pros: The Illinois native is a perfect example of a player who plays much bigger than he is. Hartman is a great hitter and he works hard every night and every shift. He’s an exciting player, energizing his teammates and crowd not only with the post-whistle shenanigans and hitting, but with the great ability to create rushes. Hartman’s combo of speed and hockey IQ is extremely rare for the guy who plays in the pest role. Not many guys can make a beatiful cross-ice pass and five seconds later talk trash to the defenseman — Hartman does it on a nightly basis. Some scouts also note Hartman’s ability to shut down opposition’s top line. His chemistry with Tom Wilson could really help the Caps sooner rather than later.

Cons: His size is far from perfect for an agitator and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to take his fearless, agressive play to the next level. However, even if his offense doesn’t translate to the NHL level, Hartman will most likely be a very good bottom-six player. He’s not likely to be a primary offensive weapon on a playoff team, but with the right group of top forwards, he could fill a secondary scoring role. He does have a habit of taking bad penalties too often.

NHL comparable: Ryan Callahan/Brad Marchand mix

Potential: Very good complementary top-six player


Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor, OHL, 6’1″, 200 lbs

Rankings: McKenzie: 21, Button: 27, THN: 21, FC: 26

Pros: Another power forward who works hard. Unlike Hartman, Rychel is more of a shooter than passer. And you can’t blame him for that — his wrister and slapper are great for 18-year-old who prides himself primarily for playing a two-way game. He’s not afraid of hitting, but his penalty totals show that most of the time he doesn’t cross the line between “tough” and “dirty.” He has good straight line speed and scores goals due to his ability to grind the ice every shift. He’s the son of former NHL player and current Spitfires GM Warren Rychel, though Kerby is projected to be more of an offensive force than his father.

Cons: Other than his shot, Rychel’s offensive tools receive mixed reviews. Some question if he has the creativity and hockey IQ to become an all-around offensive force in the NHL; he’s not a fancy player by any means. He also needs to work on his skating and agility. Like Hartman, he may end up being very good bottom-six player instead of  the second-line forward he’s projected to be.

NHL comparable: Andrew Ladd

Potential: Scoring power forward


Samuel Morin, D, Rimouski, QMJHL, 6’7″, 200 lbs

Rankings: McKenzie: 17, Button: 13, THN: 20, FC: Not in top-30

Pros: Size — Morin is the tallest of the potential top-60 picks and he is the player who uses size to his advantage by hitting or using his reach to strip the puck away. He’s not afraid of rough stuff, being a regular in the post-whistle scrums. He improved significantly throughout the year, which led to his stock rising dramatically. On the offensive side, Morin made a huge step forward, showing vision and hands unusual for a 6’7″ d-man. Scouts also like that Morin plays simple and safe hockey defensively.

Cons: Discipline is a concern with Morin. He also needs to improve his agility to be able to contain shiftier forwards. To become effective in the NHL, Morin will also have to add more than a few pounds — his weight around 200 lbs is minuscule for a big guy. His injury problems this year are concerning as well.

NHL comparable: Zdeno Chara Jeff Schultz Luke Schenn

Potential: Solid second-pairing defenseman


Frederik Gauthier, C, Rimouski, QMJHL,  6’5″, 210 lbs

Rankings: McKenzie: 22, Button: 21, THN: 30, FC: 16

Pros: Another behemoth from Rimouski, Gauthier is a strong forward who can skate, win faceoffs and play on both sides of the puck. He’s got a good shot and can handle the puck pretty well. Gauthier is also effective when going to the dirty areas — in front of the net or along the boards — and he’s willing to do that. A good defender, Gauthier knows how to win the battles and steal the puck. He’s also a versatile player who can play all three forward positions.

Cons: Opinion on Gauthier’s true offensive potential differs widely. Some scouts think that he’s able to be an offensive force merely because of his physical advantage over peers — that would largely be negated as a pro. Some also question his competitiveness. His physicality, too, is suspect. Unlike teammate Morin, Gauthier doesn’t have the mean streak to go along with the size.

NHL comparable: Brandon Sutter

Potential: Second-line center


Robert Hagg, D, MoDo, Elitserien, 6’2″, 193 lbs

Rankings: McKenzie: 27, Button: Outside of top-30, THN: 12, FC: 24

Pros: Hagg is one of the mystery men of 2013 Draft. He possesses an outstanding shot, is solid skater, and has good size. He also knows how to play defense and start the attack. This year, Hagg played for Sweden at WJC after injuries sidelined many of the Swedish top defensemen and he didn’t disappoint at the big stage. He’s also a pretty smart player.

Cons: Work ethic and consistency are big question marks in determining Hagg’s potential. Playing simple and minimalistic defensive hockey, he sometimes lacks the passion that can help at crucial moments. He also needs to be smarter using his body — at times he’s unnecessarily aggressive while in other situations he passes up the opportunity to show his physicality altogether.

NHL comparable: Fedor Tyutin

Potential: Two-way second-pairing D-man

  • CapsFever

    Pulock, morrissey, Burakovsky, Zykov, Lazar, and Erne could all be available when the caps select,all terrific players

  • Rhino40

    Give us Le Morin!

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I like the big defenseman! He’s like Sarge, but actually has some snarl to his game. Check out the video! Let’s right that wrong ASAP.

  • ChuchutrainLA

    I like the bid D canuck dude… you can’t teach size, all else is teachable.

  • Pat Magee

    Let’s trade this pick for good ole’ Dion up in Toronto….. Seriously.

  • Pat Magee

    Throw Sarge in there too, of course! (Don’t ask me how we’re gonna pay for him)

  • jeremiah

    so trade first round pick for a guy who toronto reporters say is a defensive liability and is still making mistakes he made as a rookie . that sounds …. like gmgm move

  • jeremiah

    of your list i would like hartman, i think he could be a calahan / andrew shaw type player. one of the nhl.com mock draft guy has the caps some how drafting nikita zederov which would be cool if that could happen. he is big , can skate and hits everything in opposing jersey.

  • mcq

    Agree. If Hartman can bring Marchand-like energy he is the guy we are missing. I’ve been positive about Zadorov as well, although I think with Oleksy we have that kind of guy already.

  • Fedor

    I agree, each of them could fall. But in this post I was talking about who should be available at 23 if no one falls.

  • jeremiah

    zedeov is a left shooting d olesky is a right , zederov is also projected as a top 4 or top pairing.

  • jeremiah

    maybe the caps should go back to the route they took with broouwer with another b named blackhawk player – dave bolland

    https://twitter.com/Real_ESPNLeBrun/statuses/350277627065548802

  • ChuchutrainLA

    No Nikita Zadorov on the list? C’mon, who did this list, Dick Cherry? :) Dat boy got some inches… We can teach him hipchecks –> Konstaninov Jr?

  • jeremiah

    most mock drafts have him ranked higher than were the caps pick . only have seen the one on nhl.com having him fall to the caps

  • RESmith

    If the Caps do use the 23rd pick, and he is still available, Hartman would be my top choice. He already has some chemistry with Tom Wilson. (Wilson helped recruit him to play in Plymouth.) Also, he comes from the USNDP program that the Caps scouting staff have seemed to started favoring. It would be interesting to see him form an agitating third or second line with Latta and Wilson in the next two or three years. You know, the type of line that the Caps always seem to have fits playing against and the type of line that the Bruins have found a lot of success with.