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.