Over their 45-year history, the Capitals have selected a total of 437 players in the NHL draft, with some selections turning into stars and others falling well short of expectations, with some somewhere in between. With the 2019 NHL Entry Draft just over a month away, NoVa Caps is taking a look back at the Caps’ very first selection, defenseman Greg Joly, in this latest Alumni Profile.
The Capitals selected Joly with the first overall selection in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft, the first draft in which they participated in as an expansion team and the first of just three first overall selections in franchise history (the others being Rick Green and Alex Ovechkin). Highly-touted as the franchise’s future star, Joly (who had recorded 204 points in 201 games played over three seasons with the Regina Pats of the then-Western Coast Hockey League (now the Western Hockey League) ) struggled through a knee injury in his and the Caps’ inaugural season, recording eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 44 games played, with a minus-69 rating.
After a difficult first season, Joly began the 1975-76 season with the Capitals’ then-American Hockey League affiliate Richmond Robins, recordinf five points in three games before being recalled by the Caps. He played in 54 games with Washington, recording a career-high 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) with a minus-47 rating and career-high 9.9% shooting percentage in another difficult season for the Capitals. Shortly after the beginning of the 1976-77 season, Joly was traded to the Detroit Red Wings on November 30, 1976 for veteran Bryan Watson, who would spend an additional two full seasons in Washington. Joly, meanwhile, would spend the final seven seasons of his NHL career with the Red Wings, before retiring from the NHL at the age of 31. Joly played a total of two seasons with the Caps, playing in just 98 games, recording 33 points, and failing to live up to expectations.
While the Caps have drafted other “busts” in the drafts since Joly was selected, his failure to live up to expectations were reflective of the struggles the Capitals experienced in their first decade of existence.
By Michael Fleetwood
Check Out Our Other Alumni Profiles HERE