Possibilities for the Caps 26th Draft Pick

kuznetsov-newIn 2016, the Washington Capitals will get the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by virtue of having the best regular season record but not qualifying for the “Top 4” in the playoffs.

Coincidentally, it is the same position, in 2010 where they chose Evgeny Kuznetsov! Kuzy is currently the Caps’ second line center and he led the team in points (77, 9th in the league), overall, during the regular season of 2015-16. Other notable recent picks chosen in a similar position were John Carlson who was chosen 27th overall in 2008 and Marcus Johansson who was chosen 24th overall in 2009.

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Washington Capitals 27th overall draft pick in 2008, John Carlson.
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Washington Capitals 24th overall draft pick in 2009, Marcus Johansson.

It is, admittedly, difficult to prognosticate who the Caps will choose as their 26th pick in the 54th Annual NHL Entry Draft on June 24th and 25th in Buffalo, NY. The further the pick is from the first, overall, the more difficult it is to guess who the Capitals will select. As you can imagine, choices are more predictable when they are among the first few but much less predictable after that.

Any potential predictions would be based on who is rated as the 26th best prospect or close to it in the various mock drafts, such as NESN, My NHL Draft, and Bleacher Report. Below, you’ll find a partial listing and short description of the players who could possibly be available as the Washington Capitals’ 26th pick this year. Scouting report information was primarily taken from Elite Prospects.com.

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Kale Clague | Position: Defenseman

Clague most recently played for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League (WHL) and has been with them since 2013-2014. He had 6 goals and 37 assists for a total of 43 points. The Scouting report from Elite Prospects considers him to be an offensive defenseman with a “tantalizing blend of speed, cunning, and craftiness”.  Scouting report says he needs to work on his shot but has the skills of an offensive, puck moving defenseman.  He played in the Under 18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament for 2015-16 and scored goals in 4 games.  Birth Place: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada | DOB: 6/5/1998 | Height: 6’0” | Weight: 179lbs.

Markus Niemelainen | Position: Defenseman

Niemanlainen most recently played with the Saginaw Spirit in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) but played on teams in Finland before that.  He is considered to be a complete all-around defenseman.  He is a very mobile skater who moves up and down the ice with ease.  He had 1 goal and 26 assists with Saginaw this past season. He participated in the Ivan Hlinka tournament in 2015-16 and had 2 assists in 5 games. Place of Birth: Kuopio, Finland | DOB: 6/8/1998 | Height: 6’6” | Weight: 205lbs.

Samuel Girard | Position: Defenseman

Girard most recently played for the Shawinigan Cataractes in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and has been with them since 2014-2015.  He had 5 goals and 38 assists for a total of 43 points.  The Scouting report from Elite Prospects considers him to be an offensive defenseman who takes advantage of opportunities and looks to make an impact each shift.  Accurate release on his shot and good eye for open passing lanes.  Proactive defensively. Needs a more active stick.  “All-in-all, an exciting offensive defenseman who displays noteworthy offensive and defensive instincts.”  He played in the Under 18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament for 2015-16 and scored goals in 4 games.  Birth Place: Roberval, Quebec, Canada | DOB: 5/12/1998 | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 165lbs.

Libor Hajek | Position: Defenseman

Hajek most recently played with the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League (WHL).  This is the first year he’s played in that league.  Before that, he played with HC Kometa Brno in his native Czech Republic. He had 3 goals and 26 assists with Saskatoon. According to scouting reports, Hajek “uses brilliance and slick puck handling skills to weave away from opponents and avoid checks; passing smoothly to a teammate or transitioning pucks out of the defensive zone himself when he finds a lane.” He played in the World Junior Under 18 Tournament, getting 1 goal and 2 assists in 10 games.  He played in the Ivan Hlinka tournament in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.  Place of Birth: Smrcek in the Czech Repubic | DOB: 2/4/1998 | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 196lbs.

Logan Stanley | Position: Defenseman

Stanley most recently played for the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and has been with them since 2014-2015. He had 5 goals and 12 assists for a total of 17 points.  The Scouting report from Elite Prospects considers him to be a huge 2-way defenseman who loves to play physical and clear the crease but can chip in offensively, if needed. He played in the Under 18 World Junior Championship for 2015-16 and had 1 assist in 7 games played. Birth Place: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada | DOB:  5/26/1998 | Height: 6’0” | Weight: 194lbs.

Carl Grundstrom | Position: Left Wing

Grundstrom has most recently played for MODO Hockey in the Swedish Hockey League and had 7 goals and 19 assists in 49 games this past season. Scouting reports consider him to be a goal scoring forward who likes to get plenty of shots on net. Grundstrom possesses good speed, a solid build and gets himself in the greasy areas looking for chances. He played for Sweden in the 2014-15 Ivan Hlinka tournament and had 2 assists in 5 games. He played in 2015-16 World Juniors and had 1 goal in 7 games.  Birth Place: Umea, Sweden | DOB: 12/1/1997 | Height: 6’6” | Weight: 209lbs.

Boris Katchouk | Position: Left Wing

Katchouk most recently had played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and has played with them since 2014-15. He had 24 goals and 27 assists this past season. Scouting reports consider him to be a well-rounded forward with decent size and good offensive instincts who does everything well but is not outstanding in anything. He has good speed and generates a good amount of offense. While not overly physical, he will also not shy away from contact.  He played for Canada in the World Junior Under 18 Championships in 2015-16 and had 1 goal and 1 assist in 5 games. Place of Birth: Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada but his parents were born in Russia | DOB: 6/18/1998 | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 179lbs.

Tyler Benson | Position: Left Wing

Benson most recently played with the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League. He has played with them since the tail end of the 2013-14 season. Scouting reports have compared him to John Tavares in terms of skating, mobility, and on ice awareness. He’s versatile and used in many different situations. This year, he had 9 goals and 19 assists in a season where he played only 32 games due to injuries. The previous year, he had 14 goals and 31 assists in 62 games. He played on Canada’s team for the Ivan Hlinka tournament in 2015-16 and had 1 goal and 4 assists in 7 games. Place of Birth: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | DOB: 3/15/1998 | Height: 6’0” | Weight: 201lbs.

Alex DeBrincat | Position: Center/Wing

DeBrincat most recently played for the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the team best known for being the junior team of Connor McDavid and Andre Burakovsky.  He has played with Erie since 2014-15. He is a small player with a dynamic skill set. He is a pure sniper, scoring over 50 goals in two straight years in the OHL. He is very undersized, but can be very nasty to play against and shies away from no one. He skates well and is very effective around the net. He is hard to contain for such a small player, and has great chemistry with anyone he plays with. He played for the USA in the World Juniors and scored 1 goal in 5 games. This past season, he had 51 goals with 50 assists for Erie, following up his initial season where he had 51 goals and 53 assists. Place of Birth: Farmington Hills, Michigan | DOB: 6/18/1998 | Height: 5’7” | Weight: 163lbs.

 Rasmus Asplund | Position: Center

Asplund most recently played with Farjestad in the Swedish Hockey League.  This is the first full year he’s played in the highest league for Sweden.  He is an excellent two-way center and it didn’t take him long to earn a job in Sweden’s highest league. Scouting reports describe him as “quick and shifty, using his speed and turning ability to gain time and space. He has a good touch around the net, positioning his stick in the right place and takes a beating to complete a play.” He’s considered to be a very good scorer with a quick, accurate shot.  He is also considered to be strong on the puck and can make plays across the ice or diagonally while traveling at a high rate of speed. He played in the World Junior Tournament in 2015-16 and scored 3 goals and had 2 assists in 7 games. He moved up to the top line after the injury to William Nylander. Place of Birth: Filipstad, Sweden | DOB: 12/3/1997 | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 176lbs.

Brett Howden | Position: Center

Howden most recently played with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League. He has played with them since the tail end of the 2013-14 season.   Scouting reports say he anticipates and makes decisions effectively at all ends of the ice.  He had a nose for the net and is content to drive to the net and cause chaos.  This year, he had 24 goals and 40 assists. The previous year, he had 22 goals and 14 assists.  He played on Canada’s team for the Under 19 Tournament in 2015-16 and had 5 goal and 3 assists in 6 games. Birth Place: Calgary, Alberta, Canada | 3/15/1998 | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 192lbs.

Tage Thompson | Position: Center

Thompson most recently played with the University of Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA.  He had 14 goals and 18 assists.  He is considered to be a power forward who plays well away from the net and has excelled in the power play. His father is former NHL player, Brent Thomson [ECHL Coach of the Year, 2010-11].  Place of Birth: Oyster Bay, New York | DOB: 10/30/1997 | Height: 6’5” | Weight: 185lbs.

Logan Brown | Position: Center

Brown most recently played on the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and has played with them since 2014-15.  Brown is a huge center who excels on both ends of the ice.  He is dominant in the offensive zone but takes care of the defensive zone as well. He had 21 goals and 53 assists with Windsor this past season. His father is former NHLer, Jeff Brown [Washington Capitals 1997-98]. Place of Birth: Raleigh, North Carolina | DOB: 3/5/1998 | Height: 6’6” | Weight: 218lbs.

Will Bitten | Position: Center

Bitten most recently played for Flint in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).  Before that, he played with the Plymouth Whalers.  The scouting report says he is a “smart offensive catalyst that consistently displays outstanding work ethic, elite hockey sense, and an ability to stay ahead of the play in all three zones. Very naturally gifted skater that moves around the ice with ease.”  For Flint, he had 30 goals and 25 assists.  He played in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament and had 1 goal and 1 assist in 4 games. Place of Birth: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | DOB: 7/10/1998 | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 163lbs.

Carter Hart | Position: Goalie

Hart most recently played with the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League (WHL) and has played with them since 2013-14.  He had a .918 save percentage and a 2.14 goals against average. Place of Birth: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | DOB: 8/13/1998 | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 170lbs.

NoVa Caps will be providing more draft coverage and information about these players and others as Draft Day approaches (June 24th & 25th).

By Diane Doyle

 

About Beckie Reilly

Being an avid Washington Capitals fan since their inaugural season in 1974, I energetically and passionately contribute to NoVa Caps, whose mission is to provide Washington Capitals fans worldwide with a source of connectivity to a vast community of Capitals fans by providing a platform for engagement and interaction combined with relentless, unbiased and relevant Capitals coverage 24/7/365 days a year. In working with NoVa Caps' team of contributors, I assist with various tasks from editing to publishing articles to our blog, planning NoVa Caps' Watch Parties, conducting interviews and interfacing with media personnel who cover the Washington Capitals. Let's Go Caps!
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