John Carlson, drafted in 2008, is the most recent Caps defenseman selected in the first round. (Photo: Andre Ringuette/Getty)

Reading the comments in Ian’s post covering the draft lottery, most fans seem convinced that the Capitals must select Haydn Fleury with their 13th pick, if he’s available. It’s easy to see why: Fleury, who plays for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, is a responsible defenseman in a draft dominated by forwards. It is likely that 13 out of the 15 top picks will be forwards. And the Caps blue line struggled with injuries and inconsistency all year long. Defense hasn’t been Washington’s forte for the better part of the Ovechkin era, and those defensive shortcomings have often been pegged as the key to the Caps’ early playoff exits (or, this year, pre-playoff exits).

Despite all of this, I’ll disagree with the notion that the Caps should select Fleury, or any other defenseman, with their first-round pick.

First of all, I have to note that I will not be using the good old three-letter abbreviation “BPA” (Best Player Available) to prove my point. The concept of BPA works fine until we try to define “best.” The NHL Draft doesn’t have separate selection process for each position or playing style; some of these players had down years, some saw their stock rise significantly during the previous season. They all are up for draft together, making selecting the “best” player an almost impossible task, especially when you get past the top three or five players.

1. Defensemen take longer to develop

This is not rocket science. The more defensive responsibility a position requires, the more time it takes for a player to become ready to carry the load at the NHL level. That’s why many centers start their NHL career on the wing. If you look at the 2011 draft, 50 players have already debuted in the NHL, just 15 of them defensemen. Of the 15 players with most games played, just three are blueliners. It’s easy to see the pattern: if you want to see your pick in the NHL in the next couple years, forwards are your best bet.

Fleury, or any other comparable defenseman, probably shouldn’t be relied upon for at least three more years, so a team taking him should probably be focused on the long term.

Are the Caps in that position? A lot of it depends on how the ownership sees the team right now, but most likely they don’t think a re-build is needed (and rightfully so), and the management should be working to compete for the Stanley Cup as soon as possible without mortgaging the future. In that case, it seems like the Caps should look in the direction of forwards in the first round of the draft.

The principle that the defensemen take longer to develop was also evident in the way the Capitals have drafted during the re-build: they picked a lot of defensemen in the first rounds in 2004-06 (four of six first-round selections to be exact), then took one in each of the 2007 and 2008 drafts. When it was clear that the re-build was over, the Caps concentrated on getting more forwards. That strategy by itself was right, but many of the defensemen Caps took back then never panned out (Joe Finley, Sasha Pokulok, Jeff Schultz, Josh Godfrey).

2. Caps have no shortage of youth on D

Despite taking forwards regularly in the first rounds, Washington has an abundance of blueline prospects and young NHL players. Caps scouts have done a great job finding back-end talent in later rounds, selecting the likes of Dmitry Orlov, Patrick Wey, Connor Carrick, Christian Djoos, and Madison Bowey. The Caps also managed to land a highly sought after college free agent in Nate Schmidt and acquired Tomas Kundratek in a trade. All of these players are in the position to get an NHL roster spot now or in the near future. Getting a forward early in the draft and then selecting some defensemen (there are quite a few interesting mid- and late-round candidates this year) would be the smarter way to approach the draft from the prospect pool balance standpoint.

Since 2009, 12 of 27 Caps picks in the second round and lower were defensemen. What their defense needs is immediate help from an experienced NHL player, not another prospect.

3. Forwards picked in the first round perform slightly better

There have been quite a few attempts to measure the success in drafting, but all have their flaws. The visual analysis based in GVT (a composite statistic that measures an individual player’s contribution to team’s success) provides an interesting look, but the stat it uses seems to favor forwards and goalies (noticeable if you look at the current NHL GVT leaderboard, in which the highest-ranked defenseman is 21st).

As I said, no solution is perfect, but for the purposes of this post I decided to go with the statistic based on player’s number of game played. Each skater taken in the 11-20 range in eight drafts (2001 through 2008) is measured against games played threshold. Forwards are given two “development” years after the draft, while defensemen are given three (as I mentioned earlier, defensemen generally take longer to develop). After that, the effects of NHL lockouts are eliminated and the threshold is set at 50% of NHL games, which means a player should appear in more than 50% of his team’s games to get over the threshold. You can view the full spreadsheet here (draft and games played data courtesy of Hockey Reference).

Some notes:

  • Overall, success of defensemen and forwards drafted in the taken range is similar. Forwards surpassed the threshold 59% of the time; 54% of defensemen fit the provided criteria. Forwards also hold the lead in average games played versus threshold, if you eliminate the players that didn’t pass the criteria too.
  • On the other hand, there’s a striking difference in the number of forwards and defensemen drafted in that range, though it’s hard to tell whether this is justified or if most GMs have some bias against drafting defensemen that early.
  • Forwards get the advantage when you look at the list of leaders — 13 of 15 are forwards.

After considering this evidence, I think the Washington Capitals should draft a forward with their 13th overall pick. While there’s no argument that their D needs fixing, the Draft, especially in the first round, is not the right place to do it.

Tagged with:
  • Totally convinced me.

  • m

    It’d be awesome to see the caps take a two-way center a la patrice bergeron. All the recent stanley cup winners have one (toews, bergeron, kopitar, crosby sort of) Nick Backstrom is a great two way player in his own right, and there’s no guarantee whoever we draft will be as good as any of the centers i mentioned before, but I think this is what the caps should target. Who’s with me!

  • Scott Mallon

    the only way a defenseman should come out of a first round pick is if we trade it for a contract defenseman. include a prospect or young roster player in addition to this pick to a team that is looking to either rebuild or inject youth into their lineup.

  • I could never trust a guy who spells his name Haydn anyways.

  • Fedor

    He also has a teammate, projected first-rounder, too, named Conner Bleackley. Conner. With an E.

  • That will never be as weird to me as Haydn.

  • Fedor
  • Boush

    In addition to the cut of your jib, I likes the sound of your town.

  • Boush

    Although… I would go a step further. Given the plethora of almost-there/already-there D prospects in the Caps’ system, I would package one of them with that 13th overall pick to move up as high as possible in the draft to get that almost-there/already-there LW (or 3C) the team sorely lacks. Assuming Carlson, Alzner, and Orlov are long-term, there isn’t room for the other six names you mentioned on the roster, and the GM should strike while the iron is still hot on some of those guys.

  • Bilal

    yeah i guess if you think about that way, Defense isn’t exactly the best option. I wouldn’t mind seeing our pick get traded, as long as its for a good Veteran Defense Man.

  • VeggieTart

    I’d like to think that if Kundratek hadn’t been injured early in the season (and if the Bears make the playoffs, it’s unlikely he’ll see action even then), he may have been subject to a recall. He’s a solid kid.

  • Myan

    Good stuff, Fedor. Given all the prospects in our system, I’d like to see us package this pick with one of our current forwards and see if we can get a Top 4 D. It’s time to give some of our younger forwards (WILSON!) a shot at some real ice time.

  • VeggieTart

    Blame his parents. Maybe they’re fans of classical music?

  • Myan

    I went to school with a girl name Khimberleigh. She spelled her name “Kim” on all non-official documents, for obvious reasons.

  • kyle boyd

    Talking to a scout friend of mine who works mostly for the bruins, but has some expectation on what other teams are looking for, its expected we’re going to be going for a LW. Even if GMGM gets fired we’ll likely still be using mostly the same scouts, and the organization needs LW a lot more than RW. Wilson/ovechkin will be long term locks on the wing, you’d expect one of either ward or brouwer to stay for 4-5 years, and there’s some significant chatter among a lot of circles that kuzya will do better on his off-wing and any coach that may replace oates would see that. toss in riley barber and we can expect a bit of a logjam at the position for awhile.

    at LW, we have mojo, and burakovsky coming up. considering where we are in the draft, its not far fetched to imagine we could get a quality prospect like perlini or ritchie,

    we more desperately need centers, theres just unfortunately too much of an opportunity to get a steal at LW, and not enough depth at the position this year. if we don’t go for one of the ones i mentioned id like to trade down and grab one of the euro centers with a mid-20s pick.

    on a related note: lock up grabo! there is no help coming to the position from the pipeline short of Latta stepping into a bottom 6 role.

  • DCSportsDork

    Fedor, you have done it again!!!!

    What I have noticed about hockey over the years is that it is exactly like a fist fight. You can either do two things as a fighter. You can be aggressive and throw all the punches in the world and hope the opponent gets knocked down or you can sit back, potentially take some abuse, but also hope your opponent leaves his/her body open and you go for the kill. As a fighter, you want to have both skills and you want to use them in the smartest way possible to dictate the tempo.

    With a few changes in words, you get the same description about how to win in hockey.

  • kt125

    I agree completely. We don’t need a young defenseman, we need a veteran that knows how to play in the NHL. And we have so many guys on the Bears like Schmidty and Kendratek and SteveO who can be moved up in the future. A young forward might spark some life into the team and contribute !!!secondary scoring!!!!!! (Plus we don’t have Forsberg anymore.)

  • kt125

    Kundratek. Stupid fat thumbs.

  • Why not… trade the pick? The Caps have little else of value that could fetch that top pairing D-man they so badly need. Sure, Brouwer and Ward are probably at peak value right now (and dropping one would free up more ice time for Wilson). But peak value for Brouwer/Ward doesn’t quite equal a top pairing D-man. Toss in that 1st rounder… who knows? 1st round picks always get over-valued anyway.

  • I used to follow a hockey team that had a guy named Morrisonn and a guy named Morrison. I hated it.

  • What is a Shaone?

  • DCSportsDork

    Sorry for the shameless plug everyone, but for those interested, I mentioned in my blog which veteran d-men the Caps should consider this offseason. Check out this piece and many more at

  • Michael Reschly

    That bothers you more than rooting for someone named Fleury?

  • Stevarooni

    Hilloa, one who had shown he hadn’t shone. Loamy shame. Thus begins our aestivation

  • Capper63

    I am not sure that the conclusion matches what you and your friend are saying. We drafted Burakovsky last season, and he looks to be a 1 or 2 LW, we have Mojo, Kuz can play LW, and we have some guy wearing 8 (maybe Penner?). You point out we have nothing at C in the pipeline behind Latta who could be a 3 or 4 C. We have nothing but 5’s and 6’s at D in the pipeline (Bowey being a possible wildcard), so I am not sure how a LW prospect in the first round is our most pressing need.

    All of our first rounders in the past few draft have been forwards, so it might be time for a D.

    No one can reasonably predict what we will do until we know what our GM and coach situation is going to be. But it is fun to try to figure it out.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    See, I was thinking the same thing. If we can get a big kid like Wilson or another Swede it would be great. In the NHL, you have to draft for the best player available. If it is a tie between two guys, you go with the one you need more.

  • Capper63

    Minds are being blown all across RMNB’s internet universe.

  • Capper63

    D-men do take longer to develop, and are slighlty less reliable to project, which is why it is so hard/expensive to acquire one that is NHL ready and proven. If you wait until you need one or more top line D (D1, D2): you are pretty much screwed. You cannot work your way out of this kind of jam by loading up on D5 and D6 prospects. You cannot add a bunch of them together and make one top line D man out of them.
    That is why it is important to grab one if he falls to you.

    If Fluery falls I hope they grab him, for my reason above, but if he is gone and the best available is a forward, then yes take him, as per your reasons.

  • Myan

    We could have gotten Bergeron but instead McPhee chose Eric Fehr. I give him the benefit of the doubt though because it’s hard to judge how young players pan out past the Top 5 or 10 in the 1st round.

  • DashingDave314

    I’d love to see the Capitals draft Kasperi Kapanen. I’m probably higher on him than others though.

  • Bilal

    This is completely unrelated, but does RMNB and, hate each other. I’m a new reader but I keep finding comments like this on CSN lol.

  • Harjot Singh

    I never really pay attention to the nhl draft. I have a question though how much is this pick worth? Could we trade it for a d man?

  • Fedor

    Last Draft, Cory Schneider (RFA at the time if I’m not mistaken) went for 10th overall and it was considered a bit of an underpayment. So probably not straight up, but that 1st could be a key piece in D-man acquisition. But I’d rather have them use some odd pieces already on the roster to do. Fix what’s broken.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I will agree that we don’t have a shortage of youth on D but the quality isn’t there IMO. We have Kuznetsov, Wilson, Barber, Burakovsky, Stephenson, etc. and guys like Brown, Mitchell, Herbert, etc. to hold us over forward wise for a bit. I’m still on the Fleury bandwagon.

  • Well, I like the CSN Washington staff like the Gormster and stuff, but the commentariat there seem to have some personality issues. When they come here, they do a bunch of ad hominem stuff. They’re less good at carrying on a conversation and more good at spreading 4chan-level discourse across the internet.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    I still think Ovi is a better left wing. Just look at the heatmap of where his goals were scored at even strength. He played Right Wing, but it is fairly obvious he is better at scoring from the left wing. He is a goal scorer first and to be most effective he needs to be on the off-wing on the rush.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    MAF: Marc Andre Fivehole

  • Owen Johnson
  • Semintheghost

    Thanks for the article!! I hope the Caps draft Barbashov (not sure if I am spelling it right)

  • Bilal

    Yeah I only go on there now to read the articles and such. I try to read the comments, but give up after like 2 comments.

  • Barrett

    Here’s a little devil’s advocate:

    In the 2010 NHL Draft there were five defenseman (Gudbranson, McIlrath, Fowler, Gormley and Forbort) selected in the top 15. Of those five, three of them are currently in the NHL (Gudbranson, Fowler and Gormley). Fowler jumped immediately to the NHL. Gudbranson followed a year later and Gormley three years later.
    In the 2011 NHL Draft there were six defenseman (Larsson, Hamilton, Brodin, Siemens, Murphy and Oleksiak) selected in the top 15. Of those six, five of them are currently in the NHL (Larsson, Hamilton, Brodin, Murphy and Oleksiak). Larsson jumped immediately to the NHL. Hamilton and Brodin followed a year later. Murphy and Oleksiak two years later.
    In the 2012 NHL Draft there were nine defenseman (Murray, Reinhart, Reilly, Lindholm, Dumba, Pouliot, Trouba, Koekkoek and Ceci) selected in the top 15. Of those nine, six of them are currently in the NHL (Murray, Reilly, Lindholm, Dumba, Trouba and Ceci). None jumped immediately to the NHL. Murray, Reilly, Lindholm, Dumba, Trouba and Ceci waited a year.
    In the 2013 NHL Draft there were six defenseman (Jones, Nurse, Ristolainen, Morin, Morrissey and Pulock) selected in the top 15. Of those six, two of them are currently in the NHL (Jones and Ristolainen). They jumped immediately to the NHL this past season.

    That’s four drafts totaling 26 defenseman taken in the top 15 picks of the first round. 16 of those 26 defenseman are currently playing at the NHL level. 15 of them entered the NHL in 2 years or less. It isn’t crazy to assume that if the Capitals were to select a player like Haydn Fleury that he could be in a Capitals jersey to start the 2014-15 season at age 19 or in 2015-2016 at age 20.

    I’d honestly be happy with numerous selections because they all fill a void : Haydn Fleury, Nick Ritchie, Jared
    McCann, Adrian Kempe or Ivan Barbashev.

  • RESmith

    Ryan Kennedy of the Hockey News has the Caps selecting a center, Jared McCann of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, with their pick:

    “The Caps need centers behind Nicklas Backstrom
    and McCann would be perfect for that role in the near future. The kid’s
    vision and playmaking skills are unreal and though he has battled
    injuries, has loads of potential and a good frame to build on.”

  • RESmith

    There are some us are old enough that when we hear Fleury, the first name we think is Theo.

  • Capper63

    Offenses win championships?
    History does not prove that theory out.
    The fighter analogy is pretty good, except you are forgetting one thing: Throwing a lot of punches without defense works well against untrained or outmatched fighters (or drunks), but the second you go up against a guy who knows how to fight, you are in big trouble. Same thing with NHL (and NFL for that matter) playoffs. You see the high flying teams running up the score on lesser teams but the second they run into a team with a great defense it is all over.

  • JenniferH

    Good points and I agree. We already have strong, young defensemen as you pointed out.

  • Naw man, the offense/defense thing is the wrong way to think about it and it’s not very incisive. There are lots of different ways to have the puck, but the teams that play defense the most are usually the teams that lose. Whether it’s your forwards or your D driving possession, having it is more important than how you have it.

  • Capper63

    Well, that is true, but one of the most important ways that you spend more time on offense is by having the kind of defense that shuts the other team down and clears the puck. That does not happen on its own accord, simply because you have a great offense.

  • RESmith

    Thanks, Mr. Fedin. I agree. With the exception of Madison Bowey, they may not a blue chip prospect on defense, but as you pointed out, they have plenty of depth. Center and Left Wing, as one of the other comments mentioned, is where our prospect pool is the thinnest, so drafting some skill at there would help.

    Actually, the position that concerns me the most is goaltending. I hope we focus on this position in some of the other rounds. Nothing against either Holtby or Grubauer, but if we do not either re-sign Halak or sign another solid veteran, we are one major injury away from facing the dilemma Minnesota had this year. Leggio has proven he can carry the load in Hershey if Grubauer stays up, but he is older and more a solid minor league veteran than prospect. After that, we don’t really have much.

  • I totally agree, but there’s a lot of evidence that the 08 and 09 versions of the Caps did that pretty well. And what’s more– the offense were really good at staying on offense. Both gotta work together, but in general I’m just wearied by the “the puck is heavier in the postseason” stuff.

  • brian!


  • Capper63

    Sounds interesting… He has Fluery going right before us at 12:

    “12. Phoenix – Haydn Fleury, Red Deer Rebels, D

    The Coyotes do have some nice defensive prospects, but I can’t see them passing on Fleury, who brings size, skating and smarts to the ice. That mobility will fit in well on a blueline corps that also includes Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle.”

    Thanks for the link!

  • Capper63

    Yeah I am with you about the heavy puck rhetoric. I just think that a great defense gives a team a big advantage in a 7 game series. Once they adjust to what the high powered offense is doing and begin to shut it down or limit it, you really see the ice tilt and frustration set in. Fans just chalk it up to “choking” but there is usually a lot more involved than that.

    To get a great defense, you got to pay for it somehow. In either high picks (drafted or traded) or other compensation. They don’t hit the FA market too often where they are open to any team signing them. It is usually like Weber where he already knew he was going to the Wild and that is why he did not re-sign.

    Having said that I am fine with best available, but do hope it is a C or D and we should lean that way in cases where the talent is fairly even amongst players. IMO.
    PS Unrelated: What if GMGM stays and brings in Matt Moulson? Would that change any of this for you?


    Ha, so funny. I guess being a hypocrite is ok then? Im pretty sure “dont be a d!ck” is part of your sites commenting policy.


    Yea you only read a few comments… I count 5 on the picture you just posted.

    I know you, you were from and if any of your comments there are an indication of the type of person you are, then I feel bad for this community. The immaturity you showed on was something not to be proud of. You’ve already brought it over here and an example of that is your post above.

  • I started reading with a bias that I disagreed with the premise. I ended up being in agreement with the analysis. Top priority for the Caps right now (after replacing McPhee and Oates) is a top, S@H defenseman. That player cannot be found in the draft but will most likely require a trade (Johansson an obvious candidate to go). Caps have a ton of young D talent. Other than Orlov, the rest are question marks (see above list of those who did not pan out). So I would agree to trade some of our young forward talent for an experienced defenseman and then re-draft young forward talent.

  • CadleCreek

    My angle on NHL drafting. Once outside the top 5 or maybe even 10 picks in the draft, you start to enter 50/50 range for the first round then it falls off a cliff. Pick the guy you think will be the best player over the next 2-4 years because the only real value may be as a prospect moved on deadline day to another sucker. Just for kicks some caps draft history showing # players with significant NHL time/# players chosen.

    2010 2/5 Kuzzy, Grubrauer

    2009 3/6 ish because waiting on Wey Mojo, Orlov, eakin
    2008 2/8 ish Mestery maybe move up Carlson, Holtby
    2007 1/10 Alzner
    2006 4/10 Matty P in 6th round that year Backy, Varly, Nuevy
    2005 0/7
    2004 5/13 Ovi, schultz, Green. Bourqe, Lepisto
    2003 1/6 Fehr

  • Search for the word “never” in there. You probably won’t find the word “never” in a lot of statistical projections. You also won’t find vehemence.

    Honestly, man. You’re allowed to disagree, but I need to make an effort to do it in a way that keeps the community a friendly place. A lot of people post things I don’t agree with, and it’s fine. It’s when *people* get attacked that we run into trouble.

    We’re trying to run a community where everyone is welcome. I want you to stick around, but you’re gonna have to improve your manners. If you can refrain from peeing in the punch bowl and cropdusting the cubicles, we’ll have some good conversation/arguments/discussions.


    Any where have I attacked anyone in recent months? 4-chan reference? Come on dude.

    The ONLY thing I’ve ever wanted to do here is keep the topic strictly on hockey and about this team. Its when I post those comments, these people in your “cult” who seem to flock to anything you say extend vulgar, venom and personal attacks towards me/other people and turn a debate only on the topic of hockey personal. You may not do this, but you cannot sit there and tell me the people who follow you don’t when we have a hockey related discussion. When those people post comments targeted towards a specific poster and not their content, it goes un-addressed. You are likely not there (i don’t expect you to be here moderating comments 24/7) but if the comment stays there for hours, you have to see what I probably start thinking.

    I am certainly not here to tell anyone “I told you so” even though it might appear like that. Just want to educate people who, imo, don’t understand the full context behind the opinions they are posting or the ones I have. That is all.

  • I worry you might have lost perspective, but if you stick to the hockey talk, you’ll be fine.

  • Bilal
  • madflava76

    I’m all for that. Caps have too many holes, not just at defense or left wing. If the best player available at 13 is Fleury, then pick him. I’m not too worried about it taking long to develop a defenseman because the recent trends is that players pick in the 1st round are looking more NHL ready year after year. They junior system and the off-season training that the draft eligible players do has improved light years than it did 10 years ago. Players are learning how to get themselves ready for professional hockey at earlier ages.

  • Fletcher22

    Speaking of content not to be proud of.

    In one breath we’re drawing broad assessments on the personalities of a large group of people and in another we’re telling guests to be nice and stick to hockey talk.

    It’s nearly impossible to talk hockey with someone who chooses images like the above rather than his or her own words to get their point across.

  • Graham Dumas

    To use Fedor’s metaphor, Fehr’s stock was pretty high, I believe, when we grabbed him. Plus come on, Bergeron probably would have been dealt before he ever hit the NHL anyway. 🙂

  • Capsfan81928

    Caps should draft fleury but if they could trade for and additional top 10 pick by trading green and mojo and maybe Schmidt(even though I love how he plays) and draft Ritchie who a LW and is pretty much a faster more skilled Wilson but left handed. Then move kuzy to second line center and his defence is very underrated and obviously he can provide offense. And the thing about Ritchie and fleury is they will be able to jump in to the NHL right away cause they have plenty size to play at the next level but they also are both capable of keeping up with the speed of the NHL. So maybe the caps top six could be

    Ovi-backy- burakovsky cause YOLO

    The defense is going to get major help from Bowey who is a big, fast hard hitting defensman. Carrick being the hard worker he is will come in stronger and a year smarter. Orly had a great year and I will assume he doesn’t regress into next year. Of course there’s Carlson and alzner and then you throw fleury in there and now it’s a young ,fast, big(except for carrick) puck moving defense. If the caps forwards work hard on defense too this team could go pretty far in the playoffs but it all depends on health and holtby. Also I think someone said that the caps don’t have any other centers in the pipeline except for latta, they’ve got chandler Stephenson who is a very fast/skilled two way center. People say that the caps organization is in a lot of trouble but really they’ve stockpilked a lot of young talent and I think they’re going to be a powerhouse once again.

  • Graham Dumas

    I feel like I need to disclose this: I was all set to say, “isn’t that map driven by PPGs?” until I clicked on the “More” button, and saw the title of the graph.

    So if you’re thinking of posting the same, people: be forewarned!

  • Bilal

    all right all right true good point. Guess I got carried away tbh. I DO normally come here to talk hockey, but yeah. I am one to understand when I get called out. thanks man.

  • DashingDave314

    I like Ritchie… but not THAT much. Especially not when at least one of Ritchie, William Nylander, Ivan Barbashev, and Jared McCann will be available at pick 13.

    Regarding Stephenson, he’s a third liner (not that there’s anything wrong with that, especially if you consider where we drafted him). Love his defense, but I question if he can produce enough to be a top 6 forward. Also, as the Capitals have found out in recent years, you can NEVER have too much depth at center. Move surplus ones to wing.

    If Fleury’s available at 13, grab him in a heartbeat for the reasons that you suggested. And I couldn’t agree with you more on your last sentence. The Capitals are FAR from being in rebuild mode. A few minor moves and they could be right back in contention.

  • DashingDave314

    After the first round, the draft is a guessing game.

  • DashingDave314

    Barbashev. And yes, I hope they do too. Durability concerns, but holy crap, he can play.

  • Semintheghost

    You are right. He seems like a departure from the “standard” Russian sniper and plays more like a 2 way guy.

  • CadleCreek

    I would argue that it is a guessing game in the later part of first round. The Caps have done pretty well in the first round but have only had about 4 picks over 10 years outside the 1st round that did anything.

    To emphasize my theory on picking best player vs need. I took backstrom’s draft year, since these guys should be NHL regulars (100 games) by now. I only list those that meet the 100 game mark.
    pick/ Name /Traded
    1 /Johnson/Yes

    To be fair, some of these guys did a few seasons with their draft club but most of the trades took place before their first 30 games.

  • CadleCreek

    Fehr was a beast in Junior. Once he started with the shoulder problem, he went downhill quick. He was finally healthy again this year and started playing like his ol’ wheat kings days.

  • Myan

    I did not know that. I’ve only been watching hockey for about 3 years. Thanks for the tidbit!

  • Capsfan81928

    I don’t think even if Stephensons offensive game developes that he could come anywhere close to backstrom or Kuznetsov. With Ritchie I thought that would be a great pick up for when the caps make the playoffs next year AND THEY WILL he would be one of those players like Wilson that you will be very happy he’s on your team and would help the caps make that deep playoff run that we’ve all wanted for the last decade and a half.

  • Eric Schulz

    If Haydn Fleury is there, we need to draft him… because we just need to draft the best player, and there’s about a 0% chance he falls that low. Get the best player.

  • Eric Schulz

    I agree about the defense; I don’t think quantity equal quality; I don’t think it’s a no-brainer we need a defender, but it’s not a position that we should overlook either. As always in the NHL draft, you grab the best player available. I doubt it’s a defender, but if Fleury is there, then yes, you grab him.

  • Eric Schulz


  • Eric Schulz

    Every team is one goalie injury away from being screwed.

  • RESmith

    Anaheim (John Gibson) and St. Louis (Jake Allen) are not. In fact, St. Louis Gm Doug Armstrong when addressing the question of taking a risk that Ryan Miller signs elsewhere in the off-season cited that they have Jake Allen as the reason he made the trade. He said he is confident Allen was ready to start and challenge Brian Elliot for the starter job.

    Detriot is grooming Petr Mrazek, who has already won a Calder Cup with Grand Rapids. Columbus has Oscar Dansk waiting in the wings. So does Tampa with Andrey Vasilevskiy.

    No Martin Biron for the Rnagers? Cam Talbot stepped up and even spelled Lundqvist when he was having a rough stretch. Pittsburgh had Jeff Zatkoff did a good job covering an injured Tomas Voukon for the backup spot in Pittsburgh. And Pittsburgh still drafted Tristan Jarry with their first pick in the last draft because they did not have any solid blue-chip prospects in their system. Montreal did the same with Zachary Fucale.

    I’m not just talking about next year. Grubauer is ready to “graduate” and we don’t have anyone after that. Brandon Anderson is the next closest prospect and the projection for him is far from solid.

  • Eric Schulz

    Zatkoff is a journeyman.
    Obviously I was exaggerating, not EVERY team, but 26 at least would be screwed (barring some random outlier stretch from a journeyman… like Zatkoff, and that stuff happens year after year with somebody, but it’s never really predictable, and shouldn’t be counted on).

    If you mean you are worried about the goaltending position with regards to just prospects then I agree, it’d be nice to have a young guy developing to give us a little more depth, a little more peace of mind. And for the record, I personally would much prefer nabbing a solid veteran backup rather than calling up Grubauer, my point is merely that few teams could lose their starter and still feel confident that they can contend. Optimally, it’d be great to have a young/in-his-prime starter, veteran backup, and a young prospect on the cusp that you feel okay with if you need him due to injuries, but not having that isn’t necessarily a big deal; it’s hard to have 2 goalies in the NHL that are both starters, so if your backup position is a little thin, it’s not like it’s a weakness on the team (compared to other teams around the league), or a failure by the organization. It’s like backup QB in the NFL; yeah, it’s great to have a good one, but not every team even has a legit starting-caliber QB, there just aren’t enough to go around.

  • RESmith

    “If you mean you are worried about the goaltending position with regards to just prospects” Yes. That was what I was trying to get at. Not necessarily looking for them to draft someone in the top rounds, just a one or two young players with talent that we could groom in the system for a few years to maybe take over as starters in both Hershey and Reading in two to three years. Just for organizational depth more than anything.

    And yes, I agree. I like Grubauer but would like to see the Caps sign a solid veteran backup as well.

    You are right that few teams can afford to lose their starters and expect to contend. However, what I am more arguing is for organizational depth so that if the unfortunate situation did occur you are not necessarily bringing in a guy hoping he will duplicate your starter’s play in the long run but can spell him in the short term ( a few weeks at most) without hurting the organization as whole to fill the void, i.e. Hershey has to suffer those few weeks because the guy from Reading isn’t up to AHL caliber yet and so forth down the system. Where the Caps are right now is tat after Grubauer, there isn’t anyone else that projects to even being an AHL starter in a few years time. It is usually cheaper to promote a player than sign one through FA. In the salary cap era, it could mean not having the few extra dollars to land the talent to address a bigger hole on the roster.