The NHL 2010 Entry Draft occurred in Los Angeles over the last three days and after seven rounds, the Caps exited this year’s draft with five new prospects. Selected by the team are Evgeny Kuznetsov (Russia), Stanislav Galiev (Russia), Philipp Grubauer (Germany), Caleb Herbert (U.S.), and Samuel Carrier (Canada). The five selected picks cover the range of ice positions, from center to goalie, and will be entering an already well-stocked prospect larder. GM George McPhee has gotten a great handle on building the team’s future depth, in large part due to the experienced Capitals’ scouting squads.
Let’s take a look at the new blood, shall we?
Evgeny Kuznetsov (Chelyabinsk)
Position: Center/Left Wing
Selected: 26th overall
For the third straight year, the Caps chose a center for their first pick and this year, for the fourth time in the first round of the Entry Draft, this one came from Russia. (Previous selections were Alexandre Volchkov, Alexander Semin, and some other Alex guy whose last name escapes me…) Kuznetsov was rated number 3 among European skaters by the Central Scouting Bureau and came in at number 18 on The Hockey News’ 2010 Draft Preview. Scouting reports have remarked on his speed and hands; his puck control is excellent and has noted patience around the net. He was captain of the Russian Under-18 team at the Six Nations Tournament in February and was a genuine stand-out.
While he might sound out-of-the-box ready for the NHL, he’s not. Reports also noted that Kuznetsov can get easily frustrated, taking some stupid penalties, and shows little interest in the defensive end. Bob McKenzie of TSN noted that he “is the stereotypical highly-skilled Russian forward who can be the dominant force in one game and then invisible the next.” (Sounds a little familiar…) Some quality time at Hershey should help even him out a little and bring out more of his innate talent.
Stanislav Galiev (Saint John (QMJHL))
Position: Right Wing
Selected: 86th overall
Playing in the NHL has been a life-long goal for Galiev, who told his mom when he was 4 he wanted to be an NHL hockey player. A Moscow native, Galiev began playing in North America in 2008, joining the Indiana Ice (USHL) and then the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Quebec League last year. He was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team after finishing second with 15 goals and 60 points in 67 games.
Galiev is a player with a lot of hidden potential. McKeen’s 2010 NHL Draft Guide noted that Galiev “is a smart player whose distribution skills often surprised the opposition. He disguises his intentions well.” The scrappy winger plays hard with his body, often taking a hit in order to make the play, and is adept at the defensive game (he finished the season with Saint John with a plus-41 rating). Now that he’s notched two years of experience playing the North American style, he’s poised to shine in the Quebec League and in a few years, the NHL.
Philipp Grubauer (Windsor (OHL))
Selected: 112th overall
Despite a solid trio in goal with Semyon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, the Caps grabbed the raw talented German goaltender Grubauer to add to their net depth after trading up in the draft with Toronto. While starting out a bit rough last year with Belleville in the OHL, posting a 3.14 GAA, he was traded to the Windsor Spitfires and managed to redefine himself, finishing the season with a 2.37 GAA and winning his last 8 games in the OHL playoffs and four more in the Memorial Cup.
The Red Line Report did comment that Grubauer “[o]verplays and overcommits, hanging himself out to dry. But never gives up on a play and often makes the spectacular style save. Mentally strong and always battles back from adversity.” Several draft reports note his athleticism and reflexes, possessing a strong lateral movement and is hard to beat down low. With some more experience, it’s very possible Grubauer can only add more talented depth to the rich goalie roster held by the Caps. Which, in turn, gives McPhee some serious trade and bargaining power in the future.
Caleb Herbert (Bloomington-Jefferson HS, MN)
Selected: 142nd overall
Herbert knocked in 26 goals and 55 points last season for Bloomington-Jefferson High School in Minnesota and should log at least a season in the USHL next year before heading to college. He was named Team USA’s Player of the Game in the final game of the 2008 Under-18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament, scoring two goals in the 6-5 win over Switzerland.
Samuel Carrier (Lewiston (QMJHL))
Selected: 176th overall
Having played over 120 games in the QMJHL over the last two seasons, Carrier greatly increased his scoring ability while retaining solid defensive play. He managed 32 assists and 42 points last season with Lewiston after a slow 9 point season in 2008-09; he logged an average of 50 PIMs both seasons and could have a solid future in the Caps system if his play remains consistent.
Overall, another solid draft performance by the Capitals. While the talent from this group (and last year’s selections) still remains to be seen, there’s no doubt the quality of depth in the Caps’ roster and the future success of the team seems to be well in hand. Well done indeed.