Draft Class Grades (Updated): Grading the Capitals’ Draft Picks in the Last 10 Years — Pre-2019 NHL Entry Draft Edition

Photo: Richard Wolowics/Getty Images North America

Back in February, inspired by the “10-Year Challenge” that was popular on social media at the time, NoVa Caps assessed the draft picks of the Capitals for the last 10 years; i.e. from 2008 to the present, and assigned a grade to each prospect.  With the 2018-19 season complete, NoVa Caps is taking another look these prospects and revising the grades as needed.

There are several challenges in assigning grades to draftees, in that there are many factors that have to be considered.  A player could, of course, be graded on his achievement in the NHL, but in this assessment, there’s also a grade on how well the drafting team has assessed the player’s talent, which would include grading relative to draft position and also to other players that have been selected in that year’s draft.  For example, a 13th overall pick might receive a higher grade for the same achievement if they were drafted in a relatively weak draft than if they were chosen in a strong draft with many high achieving players picked at the end of the first-round.  A player will also receive a higher grade for the same achievement if they became an NHL regular as a third or fourth-round pick than if they had been a late first-round pick, given that the odds of making to the NHL are 65% for a first rounder but only about 12% for third round or below. Each player will be given two grades, one for their accomplishment(s) in the NHL and another grading the team’s selection of him, based on draft position and other players available.

Previous studies (as done by blogs and mainstream media, like The Sporting News and The Sports Network in Canada) have shown that the odds of a first-rounder playing at least 200 games in the NHL are 2:3 but the chances of playing 200 games in the NHL are only about 1:3 for players selected in the second-round and even less so in the third-round or later.  The statistics cited by The Sports Network in Canada are that 80% of first-rounders become at least low-level NHL players, 44% of second-rounders become NHL players, but only about 30% of third-rounders become regular NHL players, with the percentages becoming worse after that. The longer it has been since a particular draft occurred, the easier it is to assess if a player was successful or not. Conversely, the more recent the draft, the more difficult it is to assess the player, as many need a few years before “ripening” into NHL-caliber players.

Given that the odds of making it to the NHL are tougher for third-round draftees and later, this assessment is primarily limited to players the Washington Capitals selected in the first or second-round. Although players drafted later will be discussed if they made it to the NHL.  All first and second-round picks will get a grade, whether they went on to play in the NHL or not.  Later round picks that made it to the NHL for a significant amount of time will also be discussed.

Grades are assigned to players, based on several factors: how they performed relative to their expected draft position and relative to other players drafted in the same draft.  The grade is based on how the player has done in the NHL, not necessarily how they did for the Capitals in particular.  For example, if a player established himself as a star, after the Capitals traded him away or he left the team in some other way, he would still receive a good grade. As a rule, the earlier the pick, the higher the grading standard.  An early first-round pick (Top 5) would need to be a star to earn an “A” grade.  A late first-rounder would need to be a solid Top 6 forward or Top 4 defenseman on a consistent basis to earn an “A”.  Two grades were awarded, one being an objective assessment of a player’s achievement as an NHL player while the other graded the Caps’ assessment of the player relative to other players in the draft.

2008 NHL Entry Draft

In the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the Capitals drafted center Anton Gustafsson with the 21st overall pick and defenseman John Carlson with the 27th overall pick in the first-round.  In the second round, they drafted Eric Mestery (57th overall) and Dmitry Kugryshev (58th overall).  The team had no third-round picks. In the fourth-round, they drafted a goalie by the name of Braden Holtby. The Caps drafted three other players in the fifth-round and later: Joel Broda, Greg Burke, and Stefan Della Rovere. Broda and Burke never made it to the NHL. Della Rovere played seven games in the NHL, none with the Caps.

Anton Gustafsson – Gustafsson never played in the NHL and played only one game for their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.  He ended up returning to his native country, Sweden, to continue his hockey career and has played most of his career in leagues in Switzerland. The Caps would have been better served in drafting Jordan Eberle, also listed as a center, who was drafted just one slot after Gustafsson.

Grades:
Player Achievement: F
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: F

 John Carlson – After a season with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and a half season with the Bears, Carlson was called up by the Washington Capitals about midway through the 2009-10 season and has been a fixture of the team’s defensive corps since then, recently playing in his first All-Star Game this season. His statistics are very similar to those of fellow defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who was selected fourth overall in the same draft and better than fellow blueliner Zach Bogosian, who was drafted third overall in 2008.  The only defensemen selected in the 2008 draft who have performed better than Carlson are Drew Doughty (second overall) and Erik Karlsson (15th overall), who were already off the board when the Caps made their selection with the 27th pick. The best defenseman drafted after Carlson was Roman Josi, who was drafted early in the second round by the Nashville Predators. For their careers, Carlson has three less goals but 58 more assists.

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Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Grades:
Player Achievement: A
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: A

Eric Mestery – Mestery never played in the NHL and the Caps never signed him to an entry-level contract. His hockey career ended after a year of college, playing a single season with the University of Manitoba. It is a mystery as to why the Caps selected him.  The Caps could have selected Michael Stone, who was still available, and was chosen in the early part of the third-round and developed into a serviceable NHL defenseman.

Grades:
Player Achievement: F
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: F

Dmitry Kugryshev – Kugryshev never played in the NHL, though the Capitals offered him an entry-level contract and he played the 2010-11 season with the Hershey Bears and also played a few games with their East Coast Hockey League affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays. In 2011-12, he left the Caps’ organization to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHLO, where he has been ever since.  Instead of drafting Kugryshev, the Caps could have drafted Jimmy Hayes, who was drafted two picks and later and had one productive season in the NHL, or one of two centers, Jori Lehtera or Adam Henrique, who also were drafted in the next round, with the latter becoming a productive NHL player.

Grades:
Player Achievement: F
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: F

Braden Holtby – A fourth-round pick, Holtby was slated to play with the Stingrays for the 2009-10 season but ended up playing primarily with the Bears. Both the Caps and Bears had injuries to goalies, which gave him the opportunity to play in Hershey, of which he took full advantage. He debuted for the Caps during the 2010-11 season and was recalled during the 2011-12 season and played in every game for the Capitals during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Since then, he has been the Capitals’ starting goaltender and compared to other goalies drafted, he has played the most games and has won the most games in his draft class by an overwhelming margin, which is quite impressive, considering that eight goalies were drafted ahead of him that year.

Grades:
Player Achievement: A
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: A+

Capitals’ Draft Class 2008

2009 NHL Entry Draft

In the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Capitals drafted forward Marcus Johansson with the 24th overall pick in the first-round and defenseman Dmitry Orlov in the second-round (55thoverall). They also chose center Cody Eakin in the third round (85th overall) and chose two other players in later rounds who briefly played in the NHL: Patrick Wey and Garrett Mitchell.

Marcus Johansson – Johansson played in Washington from 2010 through 2017, after which he was traded to the New Jersey Devils, who traded him to the Boston Bruins at the 2019 Trade Deadline, with whom he is currently playing in the Stanley Cup Final.  Johansson’s performance in terms of production is only slightly behind Nazem Kadri and Brayden Schenn, which is commendable, considering that Kadri and Schenn were both chosen earlier in the draft (Kadri was selected seventh overall while Schenn was selected with the fifth overall pick). The most comparable players chosen later in the draft were Kyle Palmieri (26th overall), who has scored about 30 more goals than Johansson but has less assists and points. The only player drafted after Johansson who has done significantly better than him is Ryan O’Reilly, who was chosen early in the second-round with the 33rd overall pick.

Grades:
Player Achievement: B+
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: A

Dmitry Orlov – Orlov has played his entire career with the Capitals, beginning in the 2011-12 season, missing only the 2013-14 season with a wrist injury.  His offensive statistics are only slightly worse than those of fellow countryman, Dmitry Kulikov, who the Florida Panthers drafted with the 14th overall pick. Orlov has scored the same number of goals but has just seven fewer assists than Kulikov.  However, Kulikov has played over 150 games more than Orlov and didn’t lose an entire season to injury; hence, it is not surprising that Orlov has fewer assists.  Another comparable defenseman drafted earlier in the same draft was John Moore, who was also drafted in the first round. Their goal-scoring is comparable, but Orlov has more assists. Many of the defensemen chosen late in the first-round or early in the second-round were much less productive than Orlov.  Perhaps the Caps would have done better in choosing defenseman Tyson Barrie, who was chosen early in the third-round and had better productivity than him on offense or chosen a forward such as Tomas Tatar or Reilly Smith, who were still available when the Capitals selected Orlov.

Grades:
Player Achievement: B
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: A

Cody Eakin – Eakin played only 30 games with the Capitals, but has carved out an NHL career with both the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights. He has played a relatively high number of games and has been relatively productive for a third-round pick of that year.  He played in only the aforementioned 30 games before being traded to the Dallas Stars in a trade for Mike Ribeiro in the summer of 2012.  Perhaps the Caps would have done better by choosing Craig Smith, a winger, who was still available when the Caps selected Eakin, however, among available centers, he was the best one available at the time.

Grades:
Player Achievement: B
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: A

2010 NHL Entry Draft

The Capitals drafted center Evgeny Kuznetsov with the 26th overall pick in the first-round.  They had no second-round pick but in the third round selected forward Stanislav Galiev, who played in the NHL briefly, and in the fourth-round selected goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who now plays for the Colorado Avalanche.

Evgeny Kuznetsov – Even though his NHL career started relatively late, Kuznetsov established himself as an important member of the Capitals’ offense and a fixture in their Top 6 soon afterwards. He has outproduced many of the forwards drafted ahead of him, including some who have played far longer in the NHL. There are forwards drafted after him who have scored more goals but none who have more assists. As a rule, the players drafted after him had different skill sets than him, with some being defensemen or others scoring wingers. The best centers available after Kuznetsov were Charlie Coyle who was chosen just two picks later, Tyler Toffoli, who was drafted midway through the second-round.  Kuznetsov has outscored Coyle by eight goals and has outperformed him when it comes to assists, despite the fact that Coyle has played in more NHL games. Toffoli has more goals than Kuznetsov, but Kuznetsov has nearly 100 more assists, despite playing in about 40 fewer games.

Grades:
Player Achievement: A
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: A

Stanislav Galiev – Galiev played a handful of games with the Caps late in the 2014-15 season and was with the Caps for nearly the entire 2015-16 season.  He was unable to establish himself in a regular role while with the Caps, so played one more year with the Hershey Bears, and then left North America for the KHL.  The Caps could have drafted Joakim Nordstrom, who was drafted at the end of the third-round and established himself as a fourth-liner, or drafted Joonas Donskoi, who the Florida Panthers drafted early in the fourth-round, who now is productive player for the San Jose Sharks.

Grades:
Player Achievement: C-
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: C

Philipp Grubauer – Grubauer made his NHL debut during the 2012-13 season, played in a few games during the 2013-14 season, and a single game during the 2014-15 season.  The 2015-16 season was his first full season in the NHL with the Caps, where he remained through the 2017-18 season. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche during the summer of 2018 after helping the Capitals win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. By the end of the season, Grubauer had earned the Avalanche’s #1 goalie role and backstopped them during the playoffs as the team advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The most prominent goalie drafted after him was Frederik Andersen, who was selected in the seventh-round. Anderson chose not to sign with his drafting team and re-entered the draft two years later.

Grades:
Player Achievement: B+
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: A

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Due to trades, the Caps did not have any draft picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft until the fourth-round.  That year, they chose Steffan Soberg (Round 4), Patrick Koudys (Round 5), Travis Boyd (Round 6), and Garrett Haar (Round 7).  None of the Caps’ draftees from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft made it to the NHL until Boyd (177th overall) made his NHL debut at the end of the 2017-18 season. Boyd is currently one of the players on the team rotating in and out of the fourth line slots in the lineup.

Travis Boyd – After finishing his college career, Boyd joined the Hershey Bears and played with them for nearly three full seasons.  He made his debut with the Caps during the 2017-18 season, playing in eight games. He remained with the Caps for the 2018-19 season and has seen a semi-regular role on the fourth line. The most notable NHL players drafted after Boyd, both chosen in the seventh-round, were Ondrej Palat (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Ryan Dzingel, who are both wingers.

Grades:
Player Achievement: C
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: B

2012 NHL Entry Draft

The 2012 Entry Draft was the first draft since the 2004 draft in which the Caps had more than one first-round pick.  That year, they chose Filip Forsberg with the 11th overall pick and Tom Wilson with the 16th overall pick. They also chose Chandler Stephenson in the third-round with the 77th overall pick, Thomas Di Pauli in the fourth-round with the 100th overall pick, Austin Wuthrich in the fourth-round with the 107th overall pick, Connor Carrick in the fifth-round with the the 137th overall pick, Riley Barber in the sixth-round with the 167th overall pick, Christian Djoos in the seventh-round with the 195th pick, Jaynen Rissling with the 197th overall pick, and Sergey Kostenko with the 203rd pick. Di Pauli, Wuthrich Rissling, and Kostenko never made it to the NHL. Di Pauli is currently with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL team, the Wilkes-Barre Penguins.  The others are either out of hockey or playing overseas.

Filip Forsberg – Unfortunately, the Caps traded him at the trade deadline in 2013 before he ever arrived in the NHL.  He became a full-time NHL player for the Nashville Predators in the 2014-15 season and soon established himself as a star.  He already has more goals and more points than any other player from the draft class and is behind only Alex Galchenyuk in assists.

Grades:
Player Achievement: A
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: A

(Note: the grade on the Caps’ assessment of Forsberg is limited to their draft of him and not the later management of his career)

Tom Wilson – Wilson played in a few playoff games for the Caps in 2013 and became a full-time player for them during the 2013-14 season, primarily playing on the fourth-line during that season. His role gradually increased for the Caps over the years as he transitioned into becoming a third-liner during the 2015-16 season, and became a first-liner for them during the 2017-18 season, currently playing in the Top 6 for the Caps. As far as offensive production is concerned, the Caps would have been better served by choosing Tomas Hertl, who the San Jose Sharks selected with the very next pick after Wilson, or Teuvo Terevainen, who Chicago chose right after the Sharks chose Hertl, or even Tanner Pearson, who the Los Angeles Kings chose at the end of the round.  But, in fairness, the pickings in that draft were relatively slim, especially when it came to forwards after the first-round. There were some gems drafted in the later rounds of this draft, including Shayne Gostisbehere, a defenseman drafted in Round 3 and Andreas Athanasiou, a center drafted in Round 4. Wilson has actually outperformed some of the forwards drafted immediately before him.

Grades:
Player Achievement: B
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: B

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Keith Srakocic/The Canadian Press/Associated Press

Chandler Stephenson – Stephenson played in a handful of games for the Capitals in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons before being called up to the NHL early in the 2017-18 season and finally establishing himself as a full-time NHL player. He played at both center and wing, usually playing center on the fourth-line, but also serving as a winger on any line.  He took a step backwards during the 2018-19 season compared to the previous season. In comparing to other players drafted in his round (or early in the next round), the very next player drafted after Stephenson was offensive defenseman Gostisbehere, chosen by the Flyers. Other players the team could have drafted instead of Stephenson include: defenseman Colton Parayko, drafted by the St. Louis Blues later in that round, or Josh Anderson, a forward drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets, or Athanasiou, drafted about midway through the next round and drafted after the Caps’ two fourth-round picks, who have not made the NHL.

Grades:
Player Achievement: C+
Capitals Assessment of Player: B

Connor Carrick – Carrick made his debut for the Caps during the 2013-14 season and played over 30 games for them that season.  He was obviously rushed and returned to the Hershey Bears for the following season.  He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trading deadline of 2016. While he played numerous games for the Leafs during his time there, he did not establish himself as a “regular” and was traded to the Dallas Stars at the beginning of the 2018-19 season and then traded to the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline. Players the Capitals could have drafted instead of Carrick include Alexander Kerfoot who is now a very productive center for the Colorado Avalanche and Colin Miller, a fellow defenseman who had a great year with Vegas in 2017-18, but is struggling by comparison this year. They also could have drafted Ben Hutton, another defenseman, who has been in the NHL the last four seasons, to include this season. Another potential player they could have drafted was Connor Brown, a forward with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Grades:
Player Achievement: C+
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: B

Riley Barber – Barber made his debut for the Caps during the 2016-17 season and played in three games for them that season.  He has spent his professional career with their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, and has not been able to gain much playing time with the Caps due to the fact there have been so many other forwards vying for playing time.  Perhaps the Caps could have drafted Vinny Hinostroza, drafted just two picks later, who has played in many more NHL games than Barber.

Grades:
Player Achievement: C
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: B
(Grades are incomplete but earns at least a “C” for appearing in the NHL as sixth-rounder)

Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Riley Barber

Christian Djoos: Djoos made his NHL debut for the Caps early in the 2017-18 season and played the whole season for them.  He also appeared in nearly all the playoff games in the Caps’ playoff run that resulted in the Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory. He missed nearly two months of this season with compartment syndrome in the thigh and needed surgery.  Prior to his injury, he had played as part of the Caps’ third defensive-pairing but was considered a regular in the Caps’ lineup.  He was not as good in his return after his injury and had lost his regular spot to Jonas Siegenthaler.  Still, he will likely improve with time.

Grades:
Player Achievement: B-
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: B

2013 NHL Entry Draft

The 2013 Entry Draft saw the Capitals draft Andre Burakovsky in the first-round with the 23rd overall pick.  In the second-round, they drafted defenseman Madison Bowey with the 53rd overall pick, and at the very end of the round, Zach Sanford, with the 60th overall pick.  Other picks still in their organization include Brian Pinho, chosen in Round 6 with the 174th overall pick, and Tyler Lewington, chosen in Round 7 with the 204th overall pick and who has already played two games with the Caps. 

Andre Burakovsky – Burakovsky debuted with the Caps during the 2014-15 season and played with them for most of that season.  He earned a more important role for them during the 2015-16 season and has generally been in their lineup since then.  He has been set back by various hand injuries over the last few seasons, as well as a lack of confidence. He has not been as productive as expected during the 2018-19 season thus far, which has generated trade rumors around him.  But to evaluate the choice of Burakovsky, he has done better than several forwards drafted immediately ahead of him and nearly all the forwards drafted after him.  Ryan Hartman, who was drafted with the 39th overall selection, is a comparable pick.  Similar to Burakovsky, Hartman has had one really good season, with subsequent seasons not being as productive. The only forward drafted later who’s done better is Jake Guentzel, who was drafted in the third-round.

Grades:
Player Achievement: B-
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: A

Madison Bowey – Bowey debuted with the Caps during the 2017-18 season and played most of that season with them.  He played with the Caps for most of the 2008-19 season and would rotate in and out of the lineup in a semi-regular role. This was the case, until he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Nick Jensen.  He was set back by a serious injury during the 2016-17 season, which greatly cut into his playing time with the Hershey Bears that season.  The best defenseman chosen in the draft after Bowey was Brett Pesce, who the Carolina Hurricanes drafted early in the third-round and who has established himself in their defensive Top 4.  The Caps may have been better served by drafting Artturi Lehkonen, a winger who plays with Montreal., who scored 20 goals this season

Grades:
Player Achievement: C-
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: B-

Zach Sanford – Sanford debuted with the Caps during the 2016-17 season but also played with their Hershey Bears affiliate.  He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in a trade deadline move for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.  He is still trying to establish himself as an NHL regular.  While he played in 60 regular season games with the Blues, he only played in three playoff games for them and all were in the first round.  He was set back by injury last season and missed much of the 2017-18 season.  The best forwards drafted soon after him were Jake Guentzel, Pavel Buchnevich, and Anthony Duclair.

Grades:
Player Achievement: C
Capitals Assessment of Player: B-

Tyler Lewington – Lewington debuted with the Caps during the 2018-19 season and has already scored a goal and has an assist.  He currently plays for the Caps’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.

Grades: Incomplete (likely at least a C for being in NHL for a cup of coffee)

Washington Capitals Prospect Review & Forecast – Tyler Lewington

2014 NHL Entry Draft

The Caps drafted Jakub Vrana in the first-round with the 13th pick overall.  In the second-round, they drafted Vitek Vanacek with the 39th pick overall. In the third-round with the 89th overall pick, they drafted Nathan Walker. The Capitals had no fourth-round pick but drafted Shane Gersich in the fifth-round with the 135th overall selection. They also drafted Steven Spinner in the sixth-round with the 159th overall pick and Kevin Elgestal in the seventh-round with the 194th overall pick. Spinner and Elgestal have not made it to the NHL.

Jakub Vrana – Vrana made his debut with the Caps during the 2016-17 season.  He established himself as a full-time NHL player, mostly on the third-line. He played in nearly all the playoff games for the Capitals during their Stanley Cup run.  In 2018-19, he has moved up to the Top 6 and his goal-scoring productivity has increased every year.  He has already surpassed his total of goals and assists from last season. Some might consider Vrana’s productivity to be a disappointment, compared to other forwards that were drafted after him, which include Dylan Larkin and David Pastrnak, who were drafted later in the first-round, Brayden Point, who was drafted in the second-round, and Viktor Arvidsson, who was drafted in the fourth-round. But the 2014 draft appears to be deeper in productive NHL forwards than many other recent drafts have been.  In a more favorable comparison, he has matched the career points of Brendan Perlini, who was drafted immediately ahead of him, having five fewer goals but 13 more assists.  Perlini’s best season came in 2017-18, in which he had 17 goals, but had just 13 goals this season.  He also had more goals this year than Kevin Fiala, another forward drafted before him as he had 24 and Fiala had 13 goals this year. Fiala scored 22 goals in 2017-18, which was his best year.  At the present time, Vrana trails Fiala by eight goals and 16 assists in their respective careers but Fiala has played in more career games, having established himself as a full-time NHLer during the 2016-17 season.  While Vrana played for the Caps during the 2016-17 season, he did not establish himself as a full-time NHL player until the 2017-18 season.

Grades:
Player Achievement: B+
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: B+

Vitek Vanecek – Vanecek has not yet made his NHL debut and is currently playing with the Hershey Bears, with whom he made his first AHL All-Star Game appearance.  In comparing his development with other goalies drafted at the same time, the main comparisons are with Thatcher Demko and Alex Nedeljkovic.  Both of them have made just two NHL appearances in two separate call-ups and are with teams with less goaltending depth than the Caps. It would not be surprising to see Vanecek make his NHL debut during the 2018-19 season. If the Caps had not picked Vanecek, they could have chosen players at other positions, who were still available at the time, such as Brendan Montour on defense or Christian Dvorak at forward, who were drafted later in the second-round or Brayden Point, who was drafted in the third-round.

Grade: Incomplete (since he has not made NHL yet but likely at least a C since his development is on track with other goalies drafted at around the same time)

Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Vitek Vanecek

Nathan Walker – Walker made his NHL debut early in the 2017-18 season and played a few games with both the Caps and the Edmonton Oilers.  He even played in one playoff game for the Caps in 2017-18.  He appeared in three games for the Caps in the 2018-19 season.  In comparing Walker to other players, most of the players drafted immediately before or after him have not made the NHL.  The most notable player drafted less than a round after him was Victor Arvidsson, who the Nashville Predators drafted in Round 4.

Grades:
Player Achievement: C
Capitals’ Assessment of Player: B

Washington Capitals Prospect Review And Forecast – Nathan Walker

Shane Gersich – Gersich made his NHL debut late during the 2017-18 season, appearing in three games for the Caps.  He has spent most of the 2018-19 season with their AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.  In comparing Gersich to other players, most of the players drafted immediately before or after him have either not made the NHL or only made the NHL for a small number of games.  The most notable player drafted soon after him was Oskar Lindblom who played his first full season this past year with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Grade: Incomplete (but at least a C as he has made it to NHL as a fifth rounder even for a short time)

Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Shane Gersich

2015 NHL Entry Draft

The Caps drafted Ilya Samsonov in the first-round, with the 22nd overall pick. In the second-round, they drafted Jonas Siegenthaler with the 57th overall pick. They had no more picks until the fifth-round, when they drafted Connor Hobbs. They drafted Colby Williams in the sixth-round, with the 173rd overall pick. Samsonov, Hobbs, and Williams are all currently playing with the Caps’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.

Ilya Samsonov – Since being drafted, Samsonov played in the KHL for three seasons and posted excellent statistics for a very young goalie, even though he was in the backup role. He is currently playing with the Hershey Bears in his first season in North America. While he was off to a rough start for the season, he has excelled during the month of January.  Folks may be concerned since he is the only player drafted in the first-round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft who has yet to play in an NHL game.  In addition, several players drafted almost immediately after him, Brock Boeser, Travis Konecny, Anthony Beauvillier, and Sebastian Aho, are already excelling in the NHL.  The only goalies from his draft class who has appeared in the NHL so far are: MacKenzie Blackwood who appeared in 23 games with the New Jersey Devils, Adin Hill who appeared in 13 games with the Arizona Coyotes, and Samuel Montembeault who appeared in 11 games with the Florida Panthers.  But none of those goalies have established themselves as full time goalies in the NHL.

Grade: Incomplete

Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Ilya Samsonov

Jonas Siegenthaler – Siegenthaler began the season with the Caps’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, but due to early season injuries on the Capitals’ blueline, was called up to the NHL and has remained with them ever since.  He has earned a role on the team’s third-pairing and, because, Djoos was not as effective after his return from injury, Sigenthaler passed him on the depth chart until the team acquired Nick Jensen, after which Siegenthaler was sent to Hershey, returning to the Capitals in time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Grade: Incomplete (but at least a B as he has most likely earned a role on the team next season)

2016 NHL Entry Draft

In the 2016 draft, the Caps drafted the following players: Lucas Johansen (Round 1 – pick #28); Garrett Pilon (Round 3 – pick #87); Damien Riat (Round 4 – pick #117); Beck Malenstyn (Round 5 – pick #145); Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (Round 5 – pick #147); Chase Priskie (Round 6 – pick #177); and Dmitriy Zaitsev (Round 7 – pick #207).  Johansen, Pilon, and Malenstyn all play with the Hershey Bears.  Riat is playing in Switzerland.  Priskie is playing college hockey. Jonsson-Fjallby started the season with Hershey but returned to Sweden to play there.  The Caps declined to offer a contract to Zaitsev, who returned home to Russia.

Lucas Johansen – Johansen played his second season of professional hockey with the Hershey Bears in 2018-19.  He has been set back by an injury and missed much of the 2018-19 season.  When he returned to action, he played on the third defensive pairing for the Bears. The Caps could have chosen forward Alex DeBrincat, who the Chicago Blackhawks chose early in the second-round and who is already excelling in the NHL.  A defenseman chosen in the draft after him who has already made it to the NHL was Samuel Girard, who Nashville selected late in the second-round and who currently plays for the Colorado Avalanche.  Another defenseman who had played a significant number of NHL games is Victor Mete who the Montreal Canadiens drafted in Round 4.  As a rule, except for DeBrincat, Girard, and Mete, most of the players drafted after Johansen in the 2015 Draft have not played a significant number of games in the NHL.  Several players drafted before Johansen have either not yet made it to the NHL or have played less than 20 games in the NHL.

Grade: Incomplete

Prospect Review — Lucas Johansen

Garrett Pilon – Pilon played his first season with the Hershey Bears and while he got off to a slow start in goals, he became more confident as the season went on.  At the end of the season, he had scored 10 goals, recorded 23 assists and had 33 points overall, which was the most of any rookie on Hershey during the 2018-19 season.

Grade: Incomplete

Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Garrett Pilon

Other Prospects

Jonsson-Fjallby started the 2018-19 season with the Hershey Bears but wished to return to Sweden and rejoined the team he played with in 2017-18.  His role decreased but he did well in the playoffs.  Malenstyn played the 2018-19 season with Hershey and established a role as a mucker/grinder.

Washington Capitals Prospect Review And Forecast – Damien Riat
Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Beck Malenstyn
Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast – Axel Jonsson-Fjällby

2017 Draft – The Caps had no draft picks until the fourth-round.  They drafted Tobias Geisser in the fourth-round with the 120th overall pick, Sebastian Walfridsson in the fifth-round with the 151st overall pick, Benton Maas in the sixth-round with the 182nd overall pick, and Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen with the 213th overall pick. None of these players are currently in the NHL although Geisser is currently playing at Hershey.  Hence, no grades will be assigned. In comparing any of their performances to other players, only a handful of players from beyond the first round of that draft have played in the NHL so far and none of them for more than 22 games.

Washington Capitals Prospect Review And Forecast – Sebastian Walfridsson
Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast – Benton Maass
Washington Capitals Prospect Review And Forecast – Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen
Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Tobias Geisser

2018 Draft – The Caps chose the following players in the 2018 draft: Alexander Alexeyev (Round 1 – pick 31), Martin Fehervary (Round 2 – pick 46), Kody Clark (Round 2 – pick 47), Riley Sutter (Round 3 – pick 93), Mitchell Gibson (Round 4 – pick 124), Alex Kannok-Leipert (Round 6 – pick 161), and Eric Florchuk (Round 7 – pick 217).   None of the players have made it to the NHL and nearly all of them are currently playing junior hockey.  It would be premature to assign grades.

Alexeyev exceeded his goal and assist totals from last season while playing in 4 more games.  He has been bothered by injuries this year.  Fehervary contributed numerous assists in the IIHF World Junior Games for 2019 and also represented Slovakia in the IIHF World Championships. Clark had a productive season for his junior team, the Ottawa 67’s although he lost nearly a month of the season with an injury.  His team made it to the OHL Championship Finals but fell short of qualifying for the Memorial Cup. Sutter had a productive season for his junior team, the Everett Silvertips and despite being drafted as a winger, served as his team’s top line center. But he was injured in late December and did not return until his team’s playoffs began.  Alex Kannok-Leipert, despite his young age, served on the top defensive pairing for his junior team, the Vancouver Giants, who advanced all the way to the fourth round of the WHL playoffs and lost in Game 7 so missed out on competing for the Memorial Cup.

Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Alexander Alexeyev
Washington Capitals Prospect Review And Forecast – Martin Fehervary
Washington Capitals Prospect Review And Forecast: Kody Clark
Washington Capitals Prospect Review And Forecast – Riley Sutter
Washington Capitals Prospect Review And Forecast – Alex Kannok-Leipert
Washington Capitals Prospect Review And Forecast – Eric Florchuk

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
This entry was posted in Draft, Hershey Bears, History, News, NHL, Propsects, Washington Capitals and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Draft Class Grades (Updated): Grading the Capitals’ Draft Picks in the Last 10 Years — Pre-2019 NHL Entry Draft Edition

  1. Day One Caps Fan says:

    This is an EXCELLENT analysis of Caps’ Draft legerdemain. Well Done!

    There are a couple of “F” grades in there. Quite a few A’s and B’s. Primarily good-to-excellent draft picks in the GMGM era. Many McPhee draft alumni graced the roster of the NHL Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in 2018. Hooray! There were some egregious BUSTS along the way, and they are gloriously listed in this article.

    Drafting and trading in the NHL are DIFFICULT endeavors, and even the very best staffs miss the mark occasionally. But I’ve been impressed in general with the performance. of GMBM and his staff with their drafting and especially, the really bad trades they DID NOT make.

    Like

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