Evgeny Kuznetsov poses with George McPhee and Ross Mahoney (Photo: Bruce Bennett)
Each off-season I catch up on my reading. I alternate between a Bill James’ Abstract (I have 1984-1989 to get through); something music related (currently Straight Edge: Clean-Living Youth, Hardcore Punk, And Social Change and Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces); and one or two hockey books– including the new one called The Art of Scouting, which “delves into the secretive world of hockey prospecting.”
After only eleven pages, I got struck by what the authors claim is the consensus of a successful draft, summarized by Mike Futa, co-director of amateur scouting for the Los Angeles Kings:
“It’s the only job where you can be right 15 percent of the time and be ruled a Hall of Famer for success, You are going to be wrong 85 or 80 percent of the time, and if you hit on 2.5 home runs every Draft, you are par with some of the best scouts ever.”
Two NHLers out of seven players drafted, assuming no trades are made, seems like a low bar, so I decided to see how the George McPhee era has done in regards to scouting.
McPhee joined the Capitals in 1997, so the first draft we can attribute to him is in 1998. Since it takes about five years for a prospect to develop, we will look at his draft record from 1998-2006. Let’s consider a prospect a success if he has played in at least 200 games at the NHL level. That gives him five years of 40 games played to qualify.
Spoiler: The results are not great.
Photo credit: Rob Carr
Shutout and embarrassed by the New York Rangers. Now where have I heard that before? The Caps certainly did their best December 12 impression on Friday night, with the added twist of dropping the game in front of their home fans, who didn’t respond kindly.
“I am absolutely not happy,” said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. “I mean our fans deserve better. That’s three games in a row at home. You know, we deserved to get booed there. It’s not fun when you come home and you got the best fans in the world and you play like that.”
The first action in the contest came when Jason Chimera delivered a hard check along the boards to the Rangers’ Michael Sauer, who didn’t take well to Chimera’s rough play. After a little back and forth the two dropped the gloves with neither getting too much of an upper hand. Just under six minutes into the game the period got ugly for the Caps. It started when Mike Green and Derek Stepan went for the puck in the corner with Stepan catching Green with an elbow. The recently injured Green immediately hit the ice, clutching his head before heading to the locker room as soon as play stopped. Just seconds after Green’s injury Steve Eminger gave the Rangers the lead, as the puck knuckled past Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth. At 14:47 in the period Sauer got into the action again setting up Erik Christensen in front of Washington’s net, putting New York up by two. The Capitals would get a chance to rally when Alex Ovechkin skated down the wing, beat Ryan McDonagh, and fired a shot on Rangers ‘keeper Henrik Lundqvist as he slid down the ice on his rear. Sounds familiar, eh? This time, however, Ovi was unsuccessful.
In the second frame, things would only get worse for the Capitals. At 4:19, while on the power play, Christensen would pot his second of the night, set up by an excellent backhand pass from Ryan Callahan. The Caps in-game entertainment crew responded by playing “Unleash the Fury” much earlier than usual. But that did little to stop Washington’s poor play as later in the period Stepan would extend New York’s lead to four after a misplay by Neuvirth.
In the third, the Rangers put a five-spot on the Caps when Vinny Prospal flicked a wrist shot over Neuvirth’s shoulder. But that wouldn’t be it. Brian Boyle would extend the lead once again in the waining moments of the game. Are you still reading? Rangers rout Caps, 6-0.
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