Another year, another European. For the seventh time since 2002, Washington Capitals selected either Swede or Russian with their first pick in the NHL draft. This year, it was André Burakovsky, a crafty forward from the land of Ikea and Volvos.
After a wild first round, the Washington Capitals finally came on the clock in the 5 pm hour. With the 23rd pick in the draft the Caps selected André Burakovsky, a left winger from Sweden. He’s reportedly a flashy playmaker, who’s played the last two years for Malmö of the HockeyAllsvenskan, the same Swedish league Filip Forsberg played in. Burakovsky is the son of Swedish coach and former NHler Robert Burakovsky. Though he was born in Austria, André grew up in Sweden.
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.
The Washington Capitals have been reluctant to move their first round picks in recent years. Sometimes they’ve entered the draft with more than one first round pick: last year and 2004, when the Caps had three: Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Schultz, and Mike Green. In most cases, holding on to those picks is the smart move – 80% of players picked in the first round between 2000 and 2011 have played at least one NHL game. For comparison’s sake, only 49% of the second round picks ever suit up in the NHL. The only time the Caps haven’t had a first round pick recently was in 2011, when they traded away the 26th pick to cap-saddled Chicago in exchange for Troy Brouwer.
“We didn’t like where the [2011 Draft] was going and we had an opportunity to use our pick to get Brouwer, and it turned out to be a heck of a move for us,” Capitals GM George McPheesaid Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “He’s a guy we all liked.” He also added that the trade was an example of a “good working relationship” between the team’s pro and amateur scouts.
This year, it might be smart for the Capitals to trade away the 23rd pick.
Hudson Fasching, a prospect projected to be selected in the second round of the NHL draft, has a remarkable family. His two younger siblings, Cooper and Mallory, have a rare genetic condition called mitochondrial disorder; their brains and muscles don’t receive the energy they need to operate properly.
“I just am very grateful for what I have,” Fasching told NHL.com in April. “I feel like I’m very lucky. It was a statistical thing, a one-in-four chance that they would contract the disease or the genes ended up the way they have. I’m just really lucky that I have all the gifts I’ve been given as a person, and I work that much harder every day to work for them because they can’t do that.”
Steffen and Markus Soberg during the Division 1 Group A World Juniors (Photo credit: IIHF).
In Norway, NHLers are few and far between. Unlike neighboring Denmark and Germany (let alone Sweden), Norway hasn’t established itself as a producer of elite hockey talent. As of right now, only 18 Norwegians have been selected in the NHL Entry Draft, only seven have played in an NHL game, and just one is currently a part of a big-league roster: the Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello.
Hockey fans from Norway sure hope some of their fellow countrymen will be selected in the upcoming draft and one of the names they’re waiting to be called in Newark in late June will sound familiar for the Caps fans: Markus Soberg.
Notably, the Caps selected three players from the U.S. developmental team, and one player recently of the U.S. developmental team. “I asked [the scouts] ‘What are we doing here?” said McPhee about this trend. “Are we drafting the whole team?'”
“We made a lot of picks today,” McPhee said of the second day overall. “I don’t know those kids very well. […] It’s nice to sort of restock this year, and we’ll see how they are in a couple of years.”
Filip Forsberg poses with Gary Bettman, George McPhee, and Ross Mahoney. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
As the number 11 pick drew near, it seemed as if George McPhee would get a steal regardless of who he took. Both Mikhail Grigorenko and Filip Forsberg, rated as top five talents heading into the draft, had been passed over by the first ten teams.