The 2004 NHL Entry Draft was kind to the Capitals….but only in the first round. Although they got a franchise icon in Alexander Ovechkin, and two defensemen who became key components of the team’s success in subsequent years in Mike Green and Jeff Schultz, the rest of their draft choices either played the majority of their time in the organization in the AHL, or never played in North America. Here is an overview of the entire selections
RD 1- Alexander Ovechkin, LW, (1st overall)
RD 1- Jeff Schultz, D, (27th overall)
RD 1- Mike Green, D, (29th overall)
RD 2- Chris Bourque, C, (33rd overall)
RD 2- Mikhail Yunkov, C, (62nd overall)
RD 3- Sami Lepisto, D, (66th overall)
RD 3- Clayton Barthel, D, (88th overall)
No RD 4 Pick
RD 5- Pasi Salonen, LW, (138th overall) -compensation for the departure of Ken Klee via FA
RD 6- Peter Guggisberg, RW, (166th overall)
RD 7- Andrew Gordon, RW, (197th overall)
Out of all the selections of 2004, just five played AT LEAST one NHL game; and only three (Ovi, Green, Schultz) were NHL regulars.
Out of all ten players, only three (Ovi, Green, Schultz) continue to play in the NHL. Ovechkin is locked up for six more seasons, Green is a pending free agent, and Schultz spent time with both the Los Angeles Kings and their AHL affiliate in Manchester. Ovechkin has a total of 895 career points, while Green’s career includes a 31-goal season and two Norris Trophy runner-ups. Schultz was part of the Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup championship and LA petitioned to have his name engraved on the Cup; making Schultz a Stanley Cup winner. He spent eight years with the Capitals before being bought out in 2013.
Despite making great selections in the first round, the team failed to make good with any of the other draftees. However, the impact and success the three aforementioned players have achieved in both their Washington and NHL careers makes up for that. With Ovi and Green still producing, the Caps earned their grade!
Final Grade- A+