Photo: Gustaf Lundberg

With the 13th overall pick in the Draft, the Washington Capitals have selected 18-year-old Czech winger Jakub Vrana out of Linkoping of the SHL. The pick was surprising considering that Vrana was ranked 23rd overall in Craig Button’s ranking.

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The Capitals selected Alex Semin 13th in the 2012 2002 entry draft. (Photo: Getty Images)

On Friday, the NHL Draft will begin. The Capitals hold the 13th overall pick, the third time since 2008 they’ve selected in the top half of the first round. To predict the players available for the Caps selection, we’ve reviewed 17 different draft rankings to compile a consensus list.

Let’s take a quick look at players 11 through 15.

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Mark French Named Head Coach Of Calgary Hitmen

French during the postseason press conference after Medvescak’s elimination from 2014 KHL playoffs.

Mark French, the Calder Cup-winning ex-head coach of the Hershey Bears, has been named the new bench boss of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

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Photo: Andreas Hillergren

According to a report by Per Bergsten of the Linkoping-based newspaper Corren, Daniel Rahimi, a 27-year-old defenseman for the Linkoping hockey club, has generated interest in the NHL. The newspaper names only one NHL club looking to sign Rahimi: the Washington Capitals.

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Zubarev hoists World Champions trophy (Photo: AP/Darko Bandic)

Andrei Zubarev, a 27-year-old defenseman with the KHL’s Salavat Yulaev Ufa, recently told Business Online that “it’s entirely possible” he’ll be coming over to play in North America next year.

Zubarev, who was a first-time KHL all-star as well as a World Champion this season, already had one unsuccessful stint in North America during the 2010-11 season. He played only four games with Atlanta Thrashers, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2005, and 51 with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves.

The Caps would be wise to give this late-blooming defenseman one more shot in the NHL.

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Failure in Sochi brought big changes to the Russian hockey team. Zinetula Bilyaletdinov and the whole coaching staff (except one guy) were sacked, as was the general manager. The Russian Federation of Hockey (FHR) didn’t stop there: they also changed the team’s PR man, Mikhail Zakharov. Stepping in for him was a controversial figure: Sport-Express’ Igor Larin.

Choosing a member of the press to run media relations is already questionable (it’s like hiring a pilot to be an airline operator), but Larin’s candidacy seemed a bad idea from day one.

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Willie Desjardins of AHL’s Texas Stars is one of the best coaches not currently in the NHL (Photo: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

The common thought among Capitals fans is that the team’s new coach must have NHL experience. The Caps last five hires — Adam Oates, Dale Hunter, Bruce Boudreau, Glen Hanlon, and Bruce Cassidy — were all rookie head coaches. This time around, names like Barry Trotz and John Stevens are getting a lot of buzz, whereas Willie Desjardins and Phil Housley are getting little.

Experience matters. All other things being equal, you should hire the guy with more experience, but that does not mean the Caps should discount what a rookie coach might bring. Because if a coach’s best quality is his experience, that’s not a great sign.

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Ice celebrate the victory (Photo: USHL Images)

The Indiana Ice, featuring Washington Capitals draft pick Brian Pinho, have won the Clark Cup. In game five of a best-of-five series, the Ice rallied to beat Waterloo Black Hawks 3-2 to win the USHL championship. Pinho scored the game-winning goal with just over two minutes to go in the third period. 

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Photo: Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images

Team Switzerland had a porous performance at the World Championship. Led by Roman Josi and Damien Brunner, the Swiss failed to qualify for the playoffs, finishing fifth in Group B due to Mikhail Grabovski’s game-winner for Belarus. Eliminated before the end of the preliminary round, the Swiss played spoiler for Latvia, who needed a win to make the quarterfinals.

Late in the third period, Latvia trailed 3-1. After pulling goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, the Latvians got a goal back from Zemgus Girgensons on a deflectionSoon after, Kaspars Daugavins turned the puck over, giving the Swiss a chance to seal the deal. Reto Suri and Thomas Rufenacht went two-on-none towards an empty net.

And then they blew it.

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UPDATED BELOW

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin suffered a lower-body injury in a World Championship game against Germany. In the middle of the third period, Ovechkin, who was breaking out of Team Russia’s zone, collided knee-on-knee with Marcus Kink in what looked like a failed hip check. There was no penalty on the play.

After staying down for more than a minute, Ovi was helped off the ice to Russia’s locker room by his teammates without putting weight on his right leg.

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