Thought hockey was over? Think again. For many, the NHL Draft is one of the three most important days in the NHL’s season, next to the trading deadline in Feb/Mar and the July 1st Unrestricted Free Agent date. It’s on this day that the future of franchises can be seen and debated, based on what prospects are selected – and sometimes, what deals can be wheedled from competitors.
The Capitals were pretty silent on the trade front, something altogether expected. The core of the team is pretty solid and there was little speculation that GM George McPhee would deal away anyone to move up in the draft. There was practically no chance the Caps could get their skates on anyone in the Top Ten so unless an offer got dropped on their desk, nothing major was going to happen. The only trade really of note involved the Caps and Coyotes, a deal for a fifth-round pick in next year’s draft for defenseman Sami Lepisto, who only played seven games this season.
Defense is the one area the team looks to shore up. While Karl Alzner is sitting in Hershey ready to move up, the team needs to decide its future with restricted free agents Shaone Morrisonn, Jeff Schultz and Milan Jurcina. With Fedorov and Kozlov departing for Russia, some room on the cap is open and gives the team some breathing room, so expect McPhee to make a play for a more high-profile defenseman at the July 1 UFA deadline. Regardless, the Caps did draft with a more defensive mindset this year, possibly with an eye on the more high-powered multi-pronged offenses being built up in the Eastern Conference, such as Boston, New Jersey, Carolina and Pittsburgh.
The Caps had picks 24, 55, 85, 115, 145, 175 and 205 across the seven-round draft. Overall a solid collection of talent, though most of these players won’t be seen wearing a Caps jersey in the next year or so.
So let’s look over the Caps new and upcoming talent, shall we?