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Throughout their 42-year history, the Capitals have been one of the best in the NHL when it comes to drafting and developing their prospects. But in particular, Capitals management has found hidden gems within the late rounds of the draft. The Caps currently have a number of prospects in the organization that were late-round (fourth or later) finds, but historically, they’ve been able to scout and select impact players.
Under former General Manager David Poile (currently the GM of the Nashville Predators), who took over as GM in 1982, the Capitals drafted players such as Dmitri Khristich (120th overall in 1988), Peter Bondra (156th overall in 1990), Ken Klee (177th overall in 1990), and Richard Zednik (249th overall in 1994) just to name a few. Bondra, of course, went on to play 14 seasons with the Capitals and after being traded in 2003, held franchise records in major offensive categories before the arrival of Alex Ovechkin. Klee also became a brilliant offensive contributor from the blueline.
Under Poile’s successor, George McPhee, the Capitals would become one of the best in drafting and developing prospects, with names such as Braden Holtby (93rd overall in 2008), Mathieu Perreault (177th overall in 2006), Philipp Grubauer (112th overall in 2010), and Riley Barber (167th overall in 2012). Holtby entered this season coming off a season in which he won the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the league, and also tied the record for most wins in a season. Perreault became a serviceable forward for the Caps as a bottom-six forward before being traded. Grubauer is now the backup goalie in Washington, and has proven himself ready to become a starter, and Barber is one of the top prospects waiting in the AHL for a chance to earn an NHL roster spot.
Under current GM Brian MacLellan, the Capitals have plucked promising young players such as Shane Gersich (134th overall in 2014), and Connor Hobbs (143rd overall in 2015). Both have considerable promise and give the Caps’ prospect pool incredible depth. No matter who makes the final decision, the Capitals have an undeniable talent for finding exciting young talent in the late stages of the draft. And who knows, maybe one or two of these players will become an integral part of any future Stanley Cup runs the Caps may have.
By Michael Fleetwood