“We Could Have Had…?!”: Washington Capitals Draft Day Regrets – 2000 Through 2010

Anton+Gustafsson+2008+NHL+Entry+Draft+Round+0UWP7G7b2falPhoto: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Throughout the existence of the NHL, teams and fans have experienced their fair share of draft pick fails, when, at the time of the selection, a team believes they chose the best player available, but as time passed, it became clear players selected later in the draft would have been more ideal selections. In this extended piece, NoVa Caps’ Diane Doyle examines draft regrets for the Washington Capitals in the drafts throughout the 21st century.

As a template, the player that the Caps would have been wiser to select will often be a player chosen soon after within the same round or early in the next round. Despite some missed opportunities for the Caps in the drafts of this millennium, the team was still able to build a team that has won one Stanley Cup, three Presidents’ Trophies, and numerous division winners. This is Part 1 of Capitals’ Draft Day regrets, which covers the years from 2000 through 2010.  Part 2, which is coming soon, will cover the drafts from 2011 through the present.

2000 NHL Entry Draft

In the first round with the 26th overall pick, the Caps drafted center Brian Sutherby.  Sutherby ended up playing 259 games in a Capitals sweater and scored 26 goals and added 35 assists for 61 points. For his NHL career, he played 460 games, scoring 41 goals and adding 49 assists. The Caps would have been better served drafting right winger Justin Williams, who would later sign a contract with the Capitals in free agency in July 2015, playing two seasons in Washington, and who the Philadelphia Flyers drafted just two picks later. Williams has played in 1,244 NHL games, and has scored 312 career goals and recorded 474 assists in a decorated career in which he has won three Stanley Cups.  Alternatively, the Caps could have drafted defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has played in 953 games with the Detroit Red Wings and is still a contributing member of their blueline. Kronwall’s brother, Steffan, played a few games with the Caps during the 2008-09 season.

In the second round, with the 43rd overall pick, the Caps drafted left wing Matt Pettinger. Pettinger played 334 games with the Capitals, scoring 52 goals and recording 47 assists.   For his NHL career, which ended after the 2009-10 season, he played in 422 games, scoring 65 goals and recording 58 assists. Just three picks later, the Calgary Flames drafted center Jarret Stoll, who later played on the Los Angeles Kings teams that won two Stanley Cups. While the two players had similar statistics during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, Pettinger’s productivity declined drastically during the 2007-08 season and he was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks at the trade deadline and was out of the league after the 2009-10 season. Stoll enjoyed several more productive seasons from 2007-08 through 2010-11 and was still a regular in the Kings’ lineup through the 2014-15 season.  Admittedly, Stoll did not sign a contract with Calgary and was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers two years later.

2001 NHL Entry Draft

For this draft, the Capitals did not have a pick until late in the second-round, when they drafted defenseman Nathan Paetsch with the 58th overall pick; subsequently, he and the Capitals never came to terms on a contract. The Caps could have chosen center Tomas Plekanec, who the Montreal Canadiens drafted in the third-round with the 71st overall pick.

The Caps drafted left wing Owen Fussey later in the third-round with 90th overall pick, who ended up playing in just four games for the team. The Capitals could have drafted Fussey’s fellow left wing Patrick Sharp, who the Flyers drafted with the 95th overall pick. Sharp, who was an important part of the Chicago Blackhawks’ three most recent Stanley Cup championships, played in 939 NHL games, scoring 287 goals and recording 333 assists for 620 points.

In the fifth-round, the Capitals drafted defenseman Artem Ternavski, who never made it to the NHL. Instead, they could have drafted goalie Mike Smith, who was drafted with the very next selection and who has played in 571 games thus far in his NHL career.  They could have also chosen defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who was drafted early in the sixth-round and played 859 NHL games.

2001 was a regrettable draft year for the Capitals overall.

2002 NHL Entry Draft

In 2002, the Caps had three first-round picks, which they used to select defenseman Steve Eminger (12th overall), winger Alexander Semin (13th overall), and center Boyd Gordon (17th overall). Eminger ultimately proved to be a disappointment and was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a first-round pick in 2008 that was eventually used on current blueline stalwart John Carlson.

In retrospect, Eminger was not the best possible pick if the team was looking to draft a defenseman with blueliners such as Denis Grebeshkov and Anton Babchuk following Eminger in the first-round. The second-round, however, had more impact defensemen, which included Duncan Keith, who has had a great career in Chicago, and Trevor Daley, who has played in over 1,000 NHL games.

Drafting Semin with the 13th overall pick worked out very well. He was a top scorer for the Capitals for many years and was the best available choice of a forward in the goal-scoring department at the time. Although it could be argued that Alexander Steen might have been a better choice as his NHL career is still ongoing, while Semin is no longer in the league.

Although Gordon, chosen with the 17th overall pick eventually became a great faceoff specialist and penalty killer for the Caps, they could have made a better selection had they chosen Steen, who Toronto chose with the 24th overall pick. Steen has been a very productive forward and is still active in the league today. As an added bonus, he has lined up as center on occasion during his career, showing his versatility. Despite some injury issues over the years, Steen has remained relatively durable in his career, especially when compared to numerous other forwards drafted that year.

The Caps drafted Maxime Daigneault with the 59th pick and Patrick Wellar with the 77th overall pick. Neither made it to the NHL, although Wellar was a mainstay for many years with the Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears. Frans Nielsen (87th pick) and Matthew Lombardi (90th pick) were both still available. None of their draft picks in any of the subsequent rounds made it to the NHL. In the process, they passed on defensemen James Wisniewski (156th pick) and Dennis Wideman (241st pick).

Overall, the Caps’ draft yielded three NHL players in the first-round, including one star in Semin but no other NHL players.

2003 NHL Entry Draft

In 2003, the Caps drafted Eric Fehr in the first-round with the 18th overall pick, passing on the chance to draft Ryan Getzlaf (19th overall pick), Brent Burns (20th overall), Ryan Kesler (23rd overall pick), Mike Richards (24th overall), and Corey Perry (28th overall). While Fehr was a fairly productive player throughout his career in D.C., when healthy, Getzlaf would have filled the Caps’ need for a center.

Another potential lament for Caps fans is the fact the Caps did not try to accumulate more first-round picks for the 2003 draft, given how deep the draft turned out to be. In both the previous year, 2002, and the subsequent year, 2004, the Caps acquired multiple first-round picks so they could select additional players. However, that year, the Caps had only one first-rounder. None of their other picks from that season even made it to he NHL. As a result, they passed up on drafting Loui Ericsson, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber, David Backes, Joe Pavelski, among others. A very regretful draft for the Caps in so many ways.

2004 Draft

The 2004 NHL Entry Draft is perhaps the single-most important draft in the history of the franchise, as the Capitals won the draft lottery for the right to select generational talent Alex Ovechkin, which the team did without hesitation. The other supreme talent that could have come close being a consideration for the Caps was center Evgeni Malkin, who the Pittsburgh Penguins selected with the second overall pick.

Since the Caps were in rebuilding mode, they had acquired additional first and second-round picks in the draft and as a result, had two additional first-round picks. This included picks 27 and 29. They drafted Jeff Schultz with the first of those picks. While Schultz was not the optimum pick, the best remaining defenseman in the draft was actually the very next player who the Caps drafted in Mike Green. In fairness, assuming the Caps were intent on drafting defensemen with late first-round picks, the next defenseman of any consequence who was drafted was Alex Goligoski, who the Penguins drafted late in the second-round.  Green, drafted with the 29th overall pick, was the best possible defenseman they could have chosen who was still available.

While the first-round of 2004 was basically regret free, the second-round and subsequent rounds come with numerous regrets. The Caps’ first pick of the third-round was Left Wing Chris Bourque, who they selected with the 33rd overall pick. Bourque ultimately spent 51 games in the NHL but never was able to carve out a regular role in the league, instead finding tremendous success in the American Hockey League, with the majority of the success coming with the Capitals’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears. They could have opted to draft either Blake Comeau (47th pick), David Booth (53rd pick), or Brandon Dubinsky (60th pick), who each had a few good years in the NHL although Comeau was not consistent in production and Booth’s career was derailed by numerous injuries, with Dubinsky being the best of the trio. The Caps had the 62nd overall pick, which they used to select Mikhail Yunkov, who never came to North America. The Caps would have been better off choosing David Krejci, who Boston picked with the VERY next pick at 63rd overall pick. He could have become the second-line center for which the Caps searched for a long time until Evgeny Kuznetsov earned the role many years later.

No other player the Caps drafted in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft were able to earn a regular role in an NHL lineup, although defenseman Sami Lepisto (third-round) and Andrew Gordon (seventh-round) played a few NHL games. Players the Caps passed on in the later rounds include Andrej Sekara, Alexei Emelin, Alexander Edler, Mikhail Grabovski, Troy Brouwer, Pekke Rinne, and Mark Streit.

Overall, the first round was a great success for the Caps, but there were a lot of missed opportunities in later rounds, especially the second-round, in which nobody the Capitals chose became impact players at the NHL level and some players they missed became stars elsewhere.

2005 NHL Entry Draft

From the outset, the 2005 NHL Entry Draft was a draft that drew ire from Capitals fans, due to draft rule changes and lottery changes that resulted in them selecting 14th overall. The Capitals used the pick to select defenseman Sasha Pokuluk, who never made it the NHL.  Still available at the time were Martin Hanzal (17th overall), Tuukka Rask (21st overall), T.J. Oshie (24th overall), and Andrew Cogliano (#25th overall). They had a second first-rounder that year with the 27th overall pick, which they used to pick defenseman Joe Finley, passing on Matt Niskanen, who the Dallas Stars picked with the very next pick (28th overall). Alternatively, they could have picked left wing James Neal (33rd), defenseman Marc-Eduard Vlasic (35th overall), left winger Justin Abdelkader (42nd overall), center Paul Stastny (44th overall), or defenseman Kris Letang (62nd).  Granted, Letang was drafted early in the third-round, more than a round away from the Caps’ last choice.

The Caps had no more picks until the fourth-round. None of their picks from the later rounds made it to the NHL, except for Tim Kennedy (181st pick), who the Caps never signed. As a result, the Capitals missed out on potentially picking winger Darren Helm, Anton Stralman, and Patrik Hornqvist (230th overall).

Overall, the 2005 NHL Entry Draft was a failure for the Caps, as they lost the opportunity to stockpile prospects during a rebuilding period.

2006 Draft

In 2006 draft, the Caps’ objective was to find a franchise center to go along with their generational player, Alex Ovechkin, who they had drafted in 2004, and several centers were available at the top of the draft.  The Caps chose center Nicklas Backstrom with the fourth pick overall.  This was the best possible pick the Caps could have made as he lead his draft class in overall points.  It was fitting that Ovechkin and Backstrom skated a lap around the ice together after winning the 2018 Stanley Cup.

The Caps were not done with drafting in the first round after choosing Backstrom.  They also had pick #23 which they used to pick goalie Semyon Varlamov.  The fact that their long-time goalie, Olaf Kolzig, was getting older and would likely need to be replaced in the next few years, gave the Caps extra incentive to choose him.  He was definitely the best goalie available in that draft and would likely not have lasted much longer.  If the Caps had wanted to pick a skater instead of a goalie, Nick Foligno was still on the board and ended up getting picked with pick #28.  An NHL.com “redraft” article chose Varlamov ahead of Foligno, which helps vindicate the Caps’ choice.

The Caps had back-to-back picks early in the second round, #34 and #35 overall.  With pick #34 overall, the Caps chose another goalie, Michal Neuvirth, as they figured they needed to stock-up on goalies, and were hedging their bets in case Varlamov did not work out.  With pick #35, they chose right winger Francois Bouchard who never made it to the NHL.  It could be argued the Caps could have chosen a player at another position rather than Neuvirth or, if choosing another goalie, they could have chosen Steve Mason who was drafted with pick #69.  But the Caps definitely whiffed in choosing Bouchard.  Good players who were still available included: left winger Nikolai Kulemin (#44), defenseman Jeff Petry (#45) and left winger Milan Lucic (#50).  Lucic was the best player among those three players.  The Caps had one more second round pick at slot #52 where they chose defenseman Keith Seabrook, who never made it to the NHL.  Center Artem Anisimov (#54) was still available.  Had the Caps chosen him instead of Seabrook, Anisimov might have eventually filled the second center role for the Caps.  Brad Marchand, drafted early in the third round with pick #71, was also still available.

The Caps had no third round picks but in the fourth round, drafted Oscar Osala (#97) who played a few games in the NHL. In the fifth round the Capitals drafted Maxime Lecroix (#127).   In the sixth round, the Caps drafted Brent Gwidt (#157) who did not make it in the NHL but later that round drafted Mathieu Perreault (#177) who is likely the best player drafted in the fourth round or later and better than at least 2/3  of the players drafted in the third round.  The main regret with Perreault is how Head Coach Adam Oates did not wish to use him at the beginning of the 2013-14 season, resulting him getting traded for a fourth rounder. The Caps had no seventh round pick that year.

Overall, in 2006 draft, the Caps drafted very well in the first round, obtaining both a franchise center and a talented goalie.  Aside from drafting Neuvirth as goalie insurance, they whiffed in the second round.  The most impactful player they drafted in later rounds was Matthieu Perreault who was likely the most impactful skater drafted in the fourth round and beyond.

2007 Draft

In this draft, the Caps had the fifth pick overall and drafted defenseman, Karl Alzner.  After going back and forth between the Caps and their AHL affiliate during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, Alzner became a regular in the Caps lineup beginning with the 2010-11 season and remaining in the lineup until leaving the team in free agency after the 2016-17 season.

Alzner compiled an iron man streak of consecutive games played which lasted through his departure from the team.  He was mostly a defensive defenseman.  If the intent was drafting a defenseman with that pick, the Caps would probably have been better served by drafting Ryan McDonaugh, who Montreal drafted with pick #12 and was a stalwart on defense, providing more offense than Alzner, and was the best all round defenseman in that draft.  They also could have drafted Kevin Shattenkirk, who the Colorado Avalanche drafted with pick #14, who provided much more offense than Alzner, but was not as good on defense.

On the whole, this particular draft was not very deep in defensemen as a whole, so maybe the Caps would have been better served by drafting a forward.  Notable forwards who were drafted in the first round after Alzner included center Sam Gagner (#6), right winger Jakub Voracek (#7), center Logan Couture (#9), center Brandon Sutter (#11), center Lars Eller (#13), left winger Max Pacioretty (#22), center Mikael Backlund (#24) and left winger David Perron (#26), the best being Voracek, Couture, Pacioretty, and Perron.

Overall, the pick of Alzner was a decent pick, although it could be argued that they could done better by choosing one of McDonaugh, Voracek, Couture, or Pacioretty, instead.  But, in fairness, the 2007 draft was a relatively thin draft that featured several first round busts and, with three notable exceptions, did not feature many stars after the first round.  An NHL.com article in 2017 which wrote about how the players would have ranked in a redraft ranked Alzner #10 in that list, behind Pacioretty, McDonaugh, and Couture, but ahead of Voracek and Shattenkirk.

In the second round, the Caps chose defenseman Josh Godfrey with pick #34 overall, who never made it to the NHL.  The Caps would have been better off drafting defenseman P.K. Subban, who the Montreal Canadiens drafted with pick #43.  The Caps had another pick in the second round which was pick #46 with whom they picked defenseman, Theo Ruth.  Ruth also never made the NHL, but he was traded at the 2008 trade deadline to Columbus for Sergei Fedorov, who had been a star for the Detroit Red Wings.  This trade proved important for the Caps.  The Caps could have drafted right winger Wayne Simmonds (pick #61) instead of Ruth but that would have meant the Caps would not acquire Fedorov at the 2008 Trade deadline.

None of the Caps other draft picks that year made it to the NHL.  Players they passed on, as a result, included Alec Martinez, Jamie Benn, Jake Muzzin, Patrick Maroon, Carl Hagelin, and Nick Bonino.

Overall, the Caps ended up with one good player and one other player traded in a noteworthy trade.  This draft conformed to the typical pattern for the Caps during the 2000’s where their drafts in odd numbered years were not good for them, comparatively speaking.

2008 Draft

The Caps had two first-round picks in the 2008 draft. They traded up in the draft to acquire the 21st overall pick and used the pick to choose Anton Gustafsson, a center from Sweden, who was the son of former Capital Bengt Gustafsson.

Gustafsson never played in the NHL and only played a single game with the Hershey Bears before returning to Sweden.  Instead of choosing Gustafsson, they could have chosen right winger Jordan Eberle, who was drafted with the very next pick.

The Caps had one more first round pick in 2008 and that was pick #27 which was used to choose defenseman, John Carlson.  Carlson has been a fixture for the Caps on defense since 2010.  The best defenseman drafted after Carlson was Roman Josi, who was drafted early in the second round, with pick #38, by the Nashville Predators.  Jose has scored 3 more career goals than Carlson, but Carlson has nearly 60 more assists.  Carlson was an excellent pick for the Caps, compared to the available talent left in the draft.

The Caps had two second round picks near the end of the round, picks #57 and #58. They picked defenseman Eric Mestery with the first and right winger Dmitry Kugryshev with the latter.  Neither player ever made the NHL.  Instead of picking Mestery for defense, they could have chosen Mark Stone, who Phoenix chose with pick #69 and developed into a serviceable defenseman.  Instead of Kugryshev, they could have chosen center Adam Henrique with pick #82. They could have also chosen left winger Zach Smith who Ottawa drafted with pick #79.  The Caps had no third round picks that year.

Early in the fourth round, the Caps drafted a goalie with pick #93, Braden Holtby, a pick to stock their prospect pool in goal.  As it turned out, he eventually earned the Caps #1 goalie position and has already played goalie for the Capitals in more games than anyone else, except Olie Kolzig.  This particular pick was a home run.

The Caps remaining picks that year either did not make it to the NHL or played a small number of games.  The best NHL players drafted in Round 4 or later, outside of Holtby, were Mark Borowiecki, Matt Martin, Jared Spurgeon, Cam Atkinson, Tommy Wingels, and Jason Demers.

Overall, the Caps were able to draft their main goalie of the future and a strong defenseman.  They whiffed on later picks but the number of impactful players late in the draft that year was relatively small.

2009 Draft  

The Capitals’ first-round pick that year was Swedish forward Marcus Johansson, who made his NHL debut at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.   This pick, which was #24 overall, was a very good one, as he has outproduced several of the forwards drafted prior to him.  He has only 23 less total points than Nazim Kadri, who was drafted with the seventh overall pick.  He is 86 total points behind Evander Kane who was the fourth pick overall and played one more season in the NHL, as Johansson played in Sweden his first post-draft season before coming over to play hockey in America.  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, and would have been an even better candidate to fill the #2 Center role that the Caps had so much trouble filling.  The only possible regret was not getting O’Reilly but, other than that, Johansson has outperformed his draft slot, relatively speaking.  He has outperformed numerous players drafted ahead of him.

The Caps second round pick was Russian defenseman Dmitry Orlov who was picked with pick #55 overall.  The best defenseman drafted after him was Tyson Barrie who Colorado drafted with pick #64 overall.  Barrie’s offensive output is much greater than Orlov’s in just 37 more games played.  If the Caps had wanted to choose a forward instead of Orlov, they could have chosen left winger Tomas Tatar who Detroit chose with pick #60 or right winger Reilly Smith who Dallas drafted with pick #69.  In defense of the pick, Orlov’s 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.  Plus, most of the defensemen drafted late in the first round and early in the second round have produced less than him.  While one player was clearly better than him at his position was drafted after him, he was a relatively good pick at his draft slot.

The Caps picked center Cody Eakin in the third round with pick #85 overall.  The best player drafted soon after him was right winger Craig Smith, who Nashville drafted with pick #98.  To be sure, Eakin was a center while Smith was a right winger.  In the fourth round, the Caps chose Patrick Wey with pick #115 whose NHL career was ended after just 9 games thanks to a concussion received in a fight.  Less than a round later, the Ottawa Senators chose left winger Mike Hoffman with pick #130.  He was a late round gem found by the Senators who had had a very productive NHL career even though there was too much unwanted drama with him off the ice in recent years.  The Caps drafted defensemen Brett Flemming with pick #145 late in the fifth round who never made it to the NHL.  In the process, the Caps passed up on Anders Lee who the New York Islanders drafted early in the sixth round with #152. With pick #175 late in the sixth round, the Caps chose Garrett Mitchell who made it to the NHL for a single game.  They passed on Eric Haula who the Minnesota Wild picked with the very first pick in Round 7 with pick #182.  The Caps had one last pick, Benjamin Casavant, who did not make it to the NHL.

The 2009 draft was a good draft for the Caps, overall.  They ended up with two long term regulars in Marcus Johansson and Dmitry Orlov.  Cody Eakin was traded away and became a regular elsewhere.  Patrick Wey and Garrett Mitchell made it to the NHL briefly.  Johansson, Orlov, and Eakin may not have been best possible players that the Caps could have chosen at the time, but they were very solid choices.  This particular draft did feature three relatively high impact players who were drafted in Round 5 and later in Mike Hoffman, Anders Lee, and Eric Haula, that were clearly missed by every team several times before finally getting picked.

2010 Draft

By virtue of winning the President’s Trophy for the 2009-10 season, the Caps had the 26th pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.  With that pick, they drafted a center from Russia named Evgeny Kuznetsov.  That pick could be described by the song lyrics in that Tom Petty song, “Waiting is the Hardest Part”   The waiting involved waiting for him to sign a contract with the Caps as he was still under contract to his old KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk and ended up signing an extension with them.  Hence, he did not come over to play in North America until near the end of the 2013-14 season.  After a period of adjustment, Kuznetsov proved to be a productive forward and ended up being the player who finally took over as Caps’ second line center, a position they had tried to fill for years. As time passed, it is clear that the Caps had drafted the best possible player who had been available at the time as no player drafted after him has scored more points than the 337 points he has earned.  The only players drafted after him with more goals are Brock Nelson, Tyler Toffoli, and Mark Stone.

The Caps had no second round pick as it had been traded to the Minnesota Wild in a 2010 deadline deal where they acquired Eric Belanger.  The Minnesota Wild picked Johann Larsson with that pick (#56 overall) who played in just one game for them before they pedaled him off to the Buffalo Sabres.  The Wild made a much better pick just three picks later in choosing Jason Zucker (#59) although he did not establish himself as a regular until 2014-15.   But with the Caps trading away their second rounder, they did not pick until the third round when they chose Stanislav Galiev with pick #86.  Galiev played in 26 games for the Caps in parts of three seasons.  The most impactful player drafted after Galiev was Joonas Donskoi who the Panthers chose with pick #99 and later relinquished their rights to him.  He joined the San Jose Sharks in 2015-16 and  became a key part of playoff runs for them.

In the fourth round, the Caps chose goalie, Philipp Grubauer.  The most notable players drafted soon after him were left wingers, Zack Hyman (#125) and Michael Ferland (#133) and defenseman John Klingberg (#131) but Grubauer filled a need for them, i.e. being a strong backup goalie, that those other players would not have done.  The most notable goalie drafted after Grubauer was Petr Mrazek (#141) but, while Mrazek earned a starter’s role before Grubauer, he has not been as consistent, statistics-wise, as him.  Thus, no regrets on that pick.  In the fifth round, the Caps chose forward Caleb Herbert (#142) who never played in the NHL.  Just five picks later, the Montreal Canadiens drafted right winger Brendan Gallagher (pick #147) who established himself as a star with Montreal and remains with them to this day, even as they traded most of their other “name” players in recent years.  In the sixth round, the Caps drafted defenseman Samuel Carrier (#176) who never made it to the NHL.  Just two picks later, the Ottawa Senators drafted right winger Mark Stone (#178) who was one of Ottawa’s best offensive players since 2014-15 until he was traded to the Las Vegas Knights at the 2018-19 trade deadline.  The Caps had no seventh round picks that season.

Within that draft, the Caps got Kuznetsov and Grubauer who were important parts of their Stanley Cup winning teams.  Kuznetsov and Grubauer were the best choices they could have made.  This draft did have two late round gems, Brendan Gallagher (fifth rounder) and Mark Stone (sixth rounder) that were missed by everyone several times.

By Diane Doyle

Related Reading
A Retrospective On The Last Decade of Draft Picks by the Washington Capitals
Draft Class Grades (Updated): Grading the Capitals’ Draft Picks in the Last 10 Years — Pre-2019 NHL Entry Draft Edition
21st Century Capitals Draft Picks
Capitals’ Draft Class: 2004
Capitals’ Draft Class: 2007
Capitals’ Draft Class: 2008

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
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7 Responses to “We Could Have Had…?!”: Washington Capitals Draft Day Regrets – 2000 Through 2010

  1. Day One Caps Fan says:

    Outstanding analysis of Caps recent draft history! Super Job Diane Doyle! I will always cringe at the mention of Sasha Pokuluk, one of many Caps’ heavy-duty busts through the years

    GM MacLellan has had a reasonably Green Thumb in selecting fruitful draft picks. I hope it continues this upcoming draft!

    The all-time overlooked player by the Caps — and many other teams — was DET C Henrik Zetterberg, who was selected #210 in 1999. Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup in 2008. Not too shabby for a 7th Round draft pick!

    Maybe “anchor man” Eric Florchuk will turn into a solid NHL forward one day — and the Caps can brag about their successful selection of the very last man in the 2018 Draft.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So many missed opportunities!

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  5. RedLitYogi says:

    Great piece. All of us longer-time hockey fans know by now that it’s not true to say that because a player found success, even great success in another city, they would have found the same success here (or vica versa). Getzlaff, yes. Stone, yes, Subban, yes. It also is a matter of opportunity and how well the organization recognizes the player’s potential and how well they develop him. Right now, there is a player in the draft, Patrick Puistola. He’ll probably go in the second round. All the reports indicate he could be a great player, provided he be developed, from the start, as a top-6 scoring forward who controls play on his line. The Caps would never give him that opportunity so they’d be wasting him to draft him.

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