The Capitals pulled off a pretty neat trick the past few years: mining the second half of the first round for talent and consistently hitting on it. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Tom Wilson and Marcus Johansson all qualify, and picking in that range can be tricky. Add in no-brainer lottery pick Alex Ovechkin plus Nicklas Backstrom and you’ve got a pretty good homegrown core already. All told, Washington has drafted quite well.
Round 1, pick 22
Round 3, pick 62
Round 4, pick 113
Round 5, pick 143
Round 6, pick 173
The Caps are solid in all areas right now, but a two-way center who can also score wouldn’t hurt – someone in a Ryan Kesler mode. With Jakub Vrana in the pipeline, skill is taken care of in spades.
Washington bolstered its defense corps with Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen over the summer, and it really helped. But once the current vets move on, reinforcements will be needed. Madison Bowey is the most promising blueliner in the system, while Dmitry Orlov and Connor Carrick have already played in the NHL, but there may be a gap if the Caps don’t begin to restock. The team didn’t take a single blueliner in the 2014 draft.
The Capitals sit around $55 million, so they have space, but they also have some big decisions. Goaltender Braden Holtby is up for free agency, and he has established himself as indispensable. He’ll be looking to cash in. Mike Green was a big name in trade deadline rumors but may be on the move in July. He can pick from any team he chooses as he heads to free agency, unless the Caps re-up him. Veterans Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle and deadline grab Curtis Glencross are also free agents, so this could be a very different team next year.
IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16:
Carrick spent some of 2013-14 with Washington but dropped back down to the AHL. Depending on Green’s whereabouts, the youngster could get another shot at the big-time.
DID YOU KNOW:
Vrana had his own apartment at 15 when he left the Czech Republic to play in Sweden.