2012 Capitals NHL Draft Preview: The Wingers

[Editor's note: You are now reading Part Two of Fedor's series on the draft. If you missed Part One, all about available centers, well then this link right here leaves you with no excuse.]

Despite Caps fans clamoring for another top six center, the Caps could certainly use one or two more wingers in the near future. With Kuznetsov’s delayed arrival and the likely departure of Alexander Semin, there’s a hole in the flanks. With the picks they have, the Caps could select a player who could contribute on the second line– particularly if they switch back to the fast-paced style of play that George McPhee hinted at during a pre-draft meeting with the media.

In their NHL line-up, the Caps currently have Alex Ovechkin, Jason Chimera, and Matt Hendricks on the left wing; and Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward on the right wing. The Caps’ top prospect is Stanislav Galiev at left and Evgeny Kuznetsov, somewhere far away, at right.

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2012 Capitals NHL Draft Preview: The Centers

The Washington Capitals  hold the 11th and 16th overall picks in this year’s draft. As such, they have a chance to re-stock a prospect pool that has become more shallow with the maturation of players like Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, and Michal Neuvirth. Although it is possible that George McPhee may deal one or both picks in a trade, let’s consider his options at 11 (acquired from Colorado for Semyon Varlamov) and 16.

Starting with the Centers.

The Capitals currently own Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich, Mathieu Perreault (RFA), and Jay Beagle (RFA). On their prospect rosters, there’s Cody Eakin, Mattias Sjogren, Caleb Herbert, and Zach Hamill (RFA).

The lack of top-six centers has been a problem for Washington since Sergei Fedorov left. They’ve drafted a few centers in the first round in recent years, but Anton Gustafsson was a bust, Evgeny Kuznetsov switched to wing and won’t join the Caps until 2014, and Marcus Johansson looks to be more and more comfortable at wing. That leaves the Caps with a big hole at the 2C spot. With the list of available players in this draft pool, McPhee could can fill that hole this June.

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Troy Brouwer

Apparently the Capitals have traded for the hockey-equivalent of Keanu Reeves.

The Caps didn’t call any names on day one of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minnesota but they did not stand pat, trading their 26th overall selection to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for the negotiating rights to Troy Brouwer. Washington hasn’t been shy with their disfavor of this year’s draft class with General Manager George McPhee saying there were few “real difference makers” and the club trading away their first three picks.

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Sure his nickname is the Undertaker, but even for himself, Capitals General Manager George McPhee has been particularly dour regarding this year’s NHL Draft. Last week, when Olaf Kolzig was introduced as the new associate goaltending coach, McPhee was asked about the draft and said that it lacked “real difference makers.” Today, McPhee sat down with Capitals’ senior writer Mike Vogel and elaborated. “I haven’t loved this draft,” McPhee lamented. “There are some decent players early on. I think it levels off in a hurry. I think once you get past 14 or 15 players, there are lots of players who have a chance to play but by no means are a lock.”

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Last year, I profiled three Russians that I thought the Capitals might consider drafting at pick number twenty six of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Stanislav Galiev, and Maxim Kitsyn. Two of those three players were actually selected by the team: Kuznetsov in the first round and Galiev in the third. This year, I want to see if I can work my magic again.

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft, set to be held in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Friday, June 24th and Saturday, June 25th, will see the Capitals picking 26th for the second year in a row. Since this year’s draft pool is weak and lacks what George McPhee calls “real difference makers,” I will be focusing on four prospects who are somehow connected to the Capitals.

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