Drafting Skills: Washington Capitals

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Washington Capitals

 2011 NHL Entry Draft

No picks in the first 3 rounds.

Round 1 – Their first round pick was traded to Chicago in the Troy Brouwer deal. Brouwer would play 4 full seasons for the Capitals, however never surpassed 43 points per season. This deal is questionable, as there were players picked after this pick that have had more impact than Brouwer.

Round 2 – Their second round pick was traded to Carolina (onto Calgary eventually) in the deal for Joe Corvo. Corvo was traded in hopes of shaping up the Capitals playoff run. This didn’t go as well as they would have hoped. They gave up quite a bit to get Corvo, mind you nothing that has turned into anything magical.

Round 3 – Their third round pick was traded to Florida in the Dennis Wideman trade. He was also traded to Washington for that playoff run, but played a full season in Washington before moving on. This deal turned out well for Washington, as he put up 46 points the following season.

 2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Filip Forsberg (C) 11th overall – Forsberg was a great pick by the Capitals in 2011 at 11th overall. He’s quickly becoming a dangerous offensive threat in today’s NHL, however not for the Washington Capitals. He was traded before every playing a game for Washington for Michael Latta and Martin Erat. This trade would prove to be horrendous for the Capitals, as Forsberg is the second highest scoring player from the 2012 draft.

Round 1 – Tom Wilson (RW) 16th overall – Wilson plays a gritty game, and isn’t viewed as a liability when on the ice like a lot of players in his category. He’s put up over 500 PIMs in his first 275 games, while remaining a plus player. His play is questionable at times, and for someone with his skill set, being selected in the 1st round seems like a stretch. There were plenty of better options on the table for the Capitals at this point in the draft, including Tomas Hertl who was taken with the next pick.  Wilson is a player you hope to get in later rounds, not take a gamble on in round 1.

Round 2 – Pick was traded for Jason Arnott. Washington was shaping up for a playoff run and felt Arnott would help. They didn’t end up past the second round this year, but Arnott chipped in with 6 points in 9 playoff games.

Round 3 – Chandler Stephenson (C) 77th overall – Stephenson is currently in his 3rd full season in the AHL, and is performing decently for a 3rd round pick. He’s not scoring at a high enough rate to be considered an NHL player at this point, especially with the powerhouse offense currently on the Caps roster. He may never develop into an everyday NHL player at this point. Next year’s training camp will be big for Stephenson if he ever hopes to crack the NHL roster.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Andre Burakovsky (LW) 23rd overall – Burakovsky possesses the skillset to be a very effective NHL player. He has grown every season into what the Caps hoped he would be when they drafted him 23rd overall back in 2013. He has yet to unlock the full potential he has shown in flashes offensively, but the hope is that he will sooner rather than later. After being drafted, he put up 41 goals in 57 games in the OHL, but has yet to hit the 20 goal mark (or more than 38 points) in an NHL season. He’s got the talent, he just needs to unlock it.

Round 2 – Madison Bowey (D) 53rd overall – Bowey has shown great improvement in his second full season in the AHL. He has missed time with injuries this year, but hasn’t looked out of a place for a young defenseman in his second professional season. The Caps are taking a slow approach with Bowey, but he should be ready for full-time NHL duty as early as next season. He plays a very solid two-way game, and big, right-shot defensemen are hard to come by. Bowey could develop into a top two pairing defender in the near future.

Round 2 – Zach Sanford (LW) 61st overall – The Caps just traded Sanford in the deal that brought Kevin Shattenkirk to town.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to the Jets along with their 4th and 5th round picks from 2013 to move up  and draft Sanford in the 2nd round.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Jakub Vrana (C) 13th overall – Vrana made his NHL debut this season after nearly a point per game pace in the AHL in 2015-2016 (34 points in 36 games). As he continues to get acclimated the North American game, his offense should continue to pick up. The problem he’ll face is having two key centres ahead of him on the depth chart for the Caps. He can transition and play the wing in hopes of moving up the lineup, however right now he’s seeing most of his minutes on the Caps third line. It’s still early, and Vrana should see a larger role with the Caps in the future.

Round 2 – Vitek Vanecek (G) 39th overall – Goalies are the hardest to predict, and Vanecek is no different. He had a good year in the ECHL in 2015-2016 posting 18 wins in 32 games, with a GAA of 2.03 and a SV% of 0.917. He’s playing in the AHL this season, which is always a great sign for a young goalie only 2 short years after being drafted. He’ll need some seasoning, and with Braden Holtby in the big leagues, there’s no rush for Vanecek.

Round 3 – Nathan Walker (LW) 89th overall – Walker is a smaller player who was drafted originally by the Rangers, was traded to the Capitals for a couple picks – one which turned out to be goalie Igor Shesterkin, who is currently tearing up the KHL as a 21 year old. This looks bad for the Capitals, even though they have great depth at the goalie position, it never hurts to have an extra top prospect in that category.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Ilya Samsonov (G) 22nd overall – Samsonov is widely regarded as a top 5 goalie prospect playing outside of the NHL. He’s currently playing in the KHL, where his save percentage seems to only be increasing year over year. In 2015-2016, he posted a SV% of 0.925 in 19 games. In this season, he posted a 0.936 SV% in 27 games. In his first two playoff games he posted a 0.949 SV%. He’s the real deal. The Caps don’t need to rush Samsonov, as he’s still only 20 years old, and they have Holtby in the crease for them now, but he is most definitely the goalie of the future – if not for Washington, for another NHL team.

Round 2 – Jonas Siegenthaler (D) 57th overall – A rock-solid, stay at home defensemen, Jonas is currently playing in his home country of Switzerland. Eventually, the Caps will want him in North America at the AHL level, but for the 19 year old, he’s not expected to make an impact for a few more years. The hope is that he will continue to round out his game, and work on his inefficiencies. He’s still only 19, so it’s early to tell how this pick will play out for the Caps. They aren’t in need of any further offensive talent, so picking up a defender was a smart play.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to the Calgary Flames for Curtis Glencross, who managed 7 points in 18 regular season games, before a disappointing playoff run of 1 point in 10 games.


All-in-all, the Capitals have done decently well for themselves, despite trading a lot of picks to load up for playoff runs – and coming up empty on that end. They boast a couple good young goaltending prospects, as well as some future offensive help. It’s tough to look back on the trades as successes, as they didn’t manage to win a Cup, however they were necessary to at least attempt to push themselves above others.


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