The Washington Capitals’ first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft will be their highest selection since drafting defenseman Karl Alzner fifth overall in 2007. Having such a position in and of itself is an opportunity that should not be missed, player-wise, but for the Caps, it is significant considering the period in which the franchise is currently in.
The Capitals missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in nine seasons, and with a Head Coaching search underway, the club is entering what is arguably, a consequential period in the team’s 49-year history.
After securing the eighth overall pick via the draft lottery, the Capitals will have a myriad of players from which to choose, with the 2023 draft considered a deep one, talent-wise. General Manager Brian MacLellan and his team (which includes longtime front office guru and former Director of Amateur Scouting, Ross Mahoney) will be pressed to draft a player that will make a significant contribution to the NHL club in the future.
When they selected Alzner (who went on to play nearly 600 – 591 – games over nine seasons on a number of contending Capitals teams) in 2007, the team had missed the postseason in the first two seasons of 2004 first overall pick Alex Ovechkin’s career, making the leap to perennial contender the following season subsequent to the arrival of Bruce Boudreau behind the bench. Now, having missed the spring tournament for the first time since 2014 and after four consecutive first round exits before this, the Caps must have an eye towards the post-Alex Ovechkin era when the time comes for team to take the stage in Nashville, Tennessee.
Reviewing Brian MacLellan’s “To-Do” List For The Washington Capitals 2023 Offseason
Ovechkin, whose chase for Wayne Gretzky’s all-time Goals record will continue to dominate the final three seasons of his current contract, is in the twilight of his NHL career; a fact that, although hard to face in many respects, is something the Capitals are surely not oblivious of. Selecting a player of such high-talent and potential at eight overall gives the team a cornerstone building block for the next era of Caps hockey while continuing to focus on surrounding their inimitable captain with a competitive team that offers him a chance at history.
Over the last few weeks, the NoVa Caps team has begun to profile a few potential prospects MacLellan and his team could be eyeing come June 28 at Bridgestone Arena (see below). While none may spark the same reaction as consensus top pick Connor Bedard, their potential impact on a future Capitals team without The Great Eight is one reason the pick holds much more weight than a high draft pedigree.
Capitals GM MacLellan on Selecting Eighth Overall in 2023 Draft: Everybody In Our Organization Is Excited About the Player We’ll Be Able to Draft In That Spot
Understandably, there may be some who read this as talk of replacing Ovechkin. To be clear, it is written with the intention of just the opposite. Not only is the Capitals’ captain irreplaceable on both the ice and in what he means to the NHL and organization itself, but he continues to be an immensely effective player for Washington, with three seasons left on his current deal. Whichever player finds himself being called at number eight on June 28 will represent the most transformational period in franchise history since Ovechkin himself was drafted in 2004, a period that symbolizes the team’s current goal of remaining competitive while looking towards the future. That the team has not had to face such a conundrum in over a decade is a testament to the remarkable run of success the franchise has enjoyed.
The NHL Entry Draft is the first step in what will surely be an offseason of change for the Capitals. With their goal for this offseason clear as ice, the eighth overall pick is an opportunity to set the direction of the team in a positive direction as Brian MacLellan and Co. get to work.
See NoVa Caps’ published draft profiles below and stay tuned for more leading up to June 28:
2023 NHL Draft Prospect: Dalibor Dvorsky
2023 NHL Draft Profile: Colby Barlow
By Michael Fleetwood
To support your point that they aren’t “replacing” Ovechkin, the reality is that the 8th pick is unlikely to play in the NHL next year, at least not past the first 10 games. Very few NHL draftees play in the big leagues in their draft year, and most that do are in the top few picks. Unless the Caps trade up to one of the top 3 picks, the kid they select would probably become a regular in 2-3 years, overlapping with Ovechkin’s last season, unless Ovechkin re-ups, which does not look that likely unless he still hasn’t broken the record or the Caps look like SC favorites.
As you indicate, this is really the first pick of the next era for the Caps.
Yeah, The replacement for Ovechkin has already been drafted… But in all seriousness, The guy we are getting probably get alot of NHL games in the 24-25 season, which is on brand for a draft pinnned at deep like the 2025 draft. In that draft 7-8-9 all played at least 30 some nhl games in their D+2, which would line up in the Development path of someone like Reinbacher, Dvorsky, and Leonard who probably go 7-8-9 (order not included) (Reinbacher and Leonard are probably the most NHL-ready players outside of the top 3).
Curious, who is: The replacement for Ovechkin has already been drafted? Just curious because I don’t see anyone in Hershey, in college, in Juniors or overseas that is his replacement!! Please enlighten us on that is!!
Caps should bring back Greg Joly to announce their pick on 28 June.
Joly, “the next Bobby Orr” – Caps very first Amateur Draft Choice (bust) in 1974, is still with us at 68. Lives in Alberta somewhere
Great article Michael
All this optimism about #8 is nice, but unwarranted. The Caps typically, and especially lately, draft poorly in the first round. I mean come on…Alzner was a good player, but that’s about it. That’s what I expect this year.
This is true. The “Post Ovi” era has already begun.
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