We Could Have Had….?!” Part 2: Washington Capitals’ Draft Day Misses: 2017-2021

Photo: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NHL Entry Draft is just 9 days away. As part of our pre-draft coverage, we continue our annual look at draft day misses – players the Washington Capitals could have selected, but ultimately decided to go in another direction.

Following the 2019 season, I conducted a three-part series on Washington Capitals’ draft regrets for the drafts from 2000 through 2018. With the passage of time and subsequent player development, it’s time to revisit the more recent drafts. Earlier, we re-examined the drafts from 2014 through 2016. This piece will discuss the drafts from 2017 through 2021.

2017 NHL Entry Draft

In this draft, due to earlier trades, the Capitals had no draft picks until the fourth round.  They chose defensemen, Tobias Geisser, with the 120th pick, forward Sebastian Walfridsson with the 151st pick, Benton Maas with the 182nd pick, and left-wing Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen with the 213th pick. None of these players have made it to the NHL. Geisser recently signed a three-year contract in Switzerland.

The most impactful player drafted after Geisser was Drake Batherson, who the Ottawa Senators selected with the 121st overall pick. No other pick made after Geisser has played more than 80 games in the NHL, so far.

2018 NHL Entry Draft

Photo: Darryl Dyck/CP

First Round

In this draft, the Caps held the 31st pick of the first round, which they used to select defenseman Alexander Alexeyev. Alexeyev has played in one NHL game in his career, thus far. The most impactful players chosen within a round of him were: Alexander Romanov (Montreal Canadiens – Pick #38) Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers – Pick #40) and Martin Fehervary, who the Caps chose at #46 overall.

Second Round

In the second round, the Capitals had consecutive picks at 46 and 47, which they used to select defenseman Martin Fehervary and right-wing Kody Clark. Fehervary has made it to the NHL and is part of the Capitals’ first defensive pairing. Among the players drafted within a round of either Fehervary or Clark, none have played more than 80 games in the NHL.

Third Round and Later

In the third round, the Caps chose right-wing Riley Sutter with the 93rd pick. The most impactful player chosen within a round of his pick was Philipp Kurashev (pick #120). In the fourth round with the 124th pick, the Capitals chose goalie Mitchell Gibson. The most impactful player selected within a round of him was Yegor Sharangovich, chosen with pick #141. The Caps had no picks in the fifth round.

In the sixth round with the 161st pick, the Capitals chose defenseman Alex Kannok-Leipert. No player chosen after him has played in over 80 NHL games. With the final pick of the draft, they chose center, Eric Florchuk.

Overall, in this draft, the Caps have gained one regular defenseman in Fehervery. One other defenseman, Alexander Alexeyev, is also promising, although his career has been set back by injuries.  The worst regret of this draft is missing out on Yegor Sharangovich.

2019 NHL Entry Draft

Photo: NHL via Getty Images

First Round

In this draft, the Caps held the 25th overall pick of the first round and chose Connor McMichael. The most impactful players drafted within a round of him were Arthur Kaliev (pick #33) and Nils Hoglander (pick #40). McMichael is a center while both Kaliev and Hoglander are wings. Kaliev, who was also a rookie in 2021-22, posted more points than McMichael, recording 27 points as opposed to McMichael’s 18.

Hoglander played in his second NHL season during 2020-21, but his performance declined from his rookie season. He recorded the same number of points as McMichael during the 2021-22 season. It’s not inconceivable that McMichael could still develop into a better player than either Kaliev or Hoglander. But the jury is still out on who could prove to be the best NHL player among McMichael, Kaliev, or Hoglander.

Second and Third Rounds

The Capitals drafted Brett Leason in the second round with pick #56 overall and drafted Aliaksei Protas in the third round with pick #91. Protas and Leason have both played in more NHL games than any of the players drafted after them.

Photo: Prince Albert Raiders

Thus far, there are no regrets with the 2019 draft, as McMichael has played an entire season in the NHL and both Leason and Protas played a significant portion of games in the NHL and are on the verge of earning full-time NHL roles.

2020 Draft and Later

It is too soon to determine if there are any regrets in the Capitals’ draft selections from either the 2020 or 2021 drafts.

In the 2020 draft, the Capitals drafted center Hendrix Lapierre in the first round with the 22nd pick overall. He has played in six NHL games. So far, no player drafted after him has made a significant impact in the NHL.

Photo: NHL

The Capitals’ remaining draft picks in 2020 were: forward Bogdan Trineyev (Round 4 – pick #117), center Bear Hughes (Round 5 – pick #148), goaltender Garin Bjorklund (Round 6 – Pick #179), and Oskar Magnusson (Round 7 – pick #211)

In the 2021 draft, the Capitals drafted defenseman Vincent Iorio (Round 2 – Pick #55), defenseman Brent Johnson (Round 3 – Pick #80), defenseman Joaquim Lemay (Round 4 – Pick #119), forward Håkon Hänelt (Round 5 – Pick #151), defenseman Dru Krebs (Round 6 – Pick #170), and goaltender Chase Clark (Round 6 – Pick #183).

By Diane Doyle

Related Reading
We Could Have Had….?!”: Washington Capitals’ Draft Day Misses: 2014 – 2016
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
We Could Have Had….?!”: Washington Capitals’ Draft Day Regrets – 2014 – 2018
“We Could Have Had…?!”: Washington Capitals’ Draft Day Regrets – 2011-2013
“We Could Have Had:: Washington Capitals Draft Day Regrets –2000 Through 2010″

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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4 Responses to We Could Have Had….?!” Part 2: Washington Capitals’ Draft Day Misses: 2017-2021

  1. GR+in+430 says:

    Seems to me the Caps have done “fine” in recent drafts. Some years better than others (2019 better, 2018 not bad, 2017 way worse but they had no early picks) but no huge regrets (yet) about the players they drafted or didn’t draft.

    The more worrisome issue is the picks given up for marginal adds at the deadline. I don’t think they’ve gotten much from those trades, and they’ve left themselves with a shallow pool of talent in the organization, particularly top-end talent, which is usually found in the first and second round, i.e., the picks they’ve often been trading for these rentals. Given the age of the roster, that has to stop.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Agree GR. There was a rough patch there, but things have improved. I know the Capitals (quietly) made a a change or two to scouting. They have a really good one now, Danny Brooks, who has made a number of key college free agent signings (Snively, Nardella, Stevenson, etc.)

    • Diane Doyle says:

      Trading picks for marginal acquisitions had been something the Caps have done for several years so the talent pool got less. But, as Jon pointed out, they’ve gotten some free agent signings out of college.

      But trading draft picks for “here and now” is something nearly every long team contender has done. Now we’re seeing the fact that the Caps were 2nd wild card, Boston 1st wild card, and the Pens third in the division as the cores are getting older. People are more accustomed to the Caps and Pens at the top of the Division and Boston (usually) at the top of the Atlantic.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not too bad, much better than 2014-2016 misses. Sharangovich would have been nice, though.

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