Ross Mahoney on First-Round Pick in 2023 Draft: “We’re Trying To Take The Best Player Available To Us And Hopefully Make the Right Pick”

Screenshot: Washington Capitals

The 2023 NHL offseason has finally arrived, with the Stanley Cup Playoffs complete and the 2023 NHL Entry Draft approaching in a week’s time. The Washington Capitals will be selecting eighth overall in the first-round, the highest for the club since 2007.

One day after the Caps’ American Hockey League affiliate Hershey Bears captured their 12th Calder Cup Championship, Capitals Assistant General Manager (and former Director of Amateur Scouting) Ross Mahoney spoke to the media via teleconference about the organization’s approach to the all-important pick.

“It’s exciting no matter where you pick in the first round”, Mahoney said, “But…the higher you’re picking, the better the player you should be getting…it’s been awhile since we had that pick but I know the guys are excited, the scouts are very excited now that we actually got that pick that it’s at eight to be able to call a player’s name that we think will be a very good player for the Capitals in the future.”

Mahoney, who was part of the team’s brass who selected defenseman Karl Alzner with the fifth overall in 2007, has been a member of the Caps’ front office for over two decades, serving as the team’s Director of Amateur Scouting for 16 seasons and an Assistant GM for nearly ten.

“I guess probably, the analytics has really become a much bigger part of the process since 2007”, Mahoney reflected when asked about the changes and similarities in assessing talent since the Capitals were last in the Top 10, “I think there’s been great strides made in that area.”

“As I said, the video component is much better as far as the quality of the video we’re watching. We’ve increased our staff a lot since 2007, we were a much smaller group then. Part of that was due to, back then you had a little more the traditional countries producing players; you know like Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Czech Republic. And now we have Latvia, Belarus, more players coming out of Switzerland, and Germany and Denmark, and Norway, and Slovenia…I think those are some of the biggest changes since 2007.”

The Capitals have frequently been linked to young Russian talent Matvei Michkov, who will be in attendance at the draft but not at the Scouting Combine, and who has reportedly been difficult to communicate with by interested clubs. Although the franchise has been known for developing and boasting notable Russian players (including the club’s 2004 first overall pick Alex Ovechkin), Mahoney was non-committal to discussing specific players.

“We’re still trying to finalize all that, as far as the interviews we’ve got at the draft. So I can’t give you a definitive answer on that”, with Mahoney noting that the interviews with potential prospects are “an ongoing process”.

While the Alex Ovechkin era in Washington is approaching an end, the Caps’ brass seem to be approaching this pick, which has often been deemed a potentially “franchise-altering” selection, in much the same way they would at a later stage in the opening round.

“This pick is obviously important, but we treat it like any other pick we would have. They’re all important for us and we’re trying to take the best player available to us and hopefully make the right pick. We’ve always tried to take the best player available to us.”

To hear Mahoney’s full comments, watch the video below:

By Michael Fleetwood

To read NoVa Caps’ draft profiles click below:
2023 Draft Profile: Brayden Yager
2023 Draft Profile: Will Smith
2023 Draft Profile: Zach Benson
2023 Draft Profile: Gabe Perreault
2023 Draft Profile: Matvei Michkov
2023 NHL Draft Profile: Andrew Cristall
2023 NHL Draft Profile: Oliver Moore
2023 Draft Profile: David Reinbacher
2023 NHL Draft Profile: Colby Barlow

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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18 Responses to Ross Mahoney on First-Round Pick in 2023 Draft: “We’re Trying To Take The Best Player Available To Us And Hopefully Make the Right Pick”

  1. Anonymous says:

    We just won the Calder and I think at least one of them or even Suz would be good trade bait… Trade down to StL for 2 firsts by giving our 1st and 2nd and maybe a pros…

  2. novafyre says:

    Semin has been my poster boy for underperformance. Since then we’ve given up on Vrana and Sammy and Kuzy has asked for a trade. We need to be building a team, not going after problematic individuals.

  3. Prevent Defense says:

    Novafyre spot-on about Caps’ talent picking. It goes back for generations. Caps franchise has been plagued with “Problematic individuals ” since its inception in the 1970s. Yes I sure hope that the Ross Mahoney-ites player selections this time don’t turn into “problematic individuals.”

    I evaluate Mahoney himself as a pretty good hockey man, a good judge of talent. I WISH I could accuse him of Greatness, being a great judge of future success in the NHL. Many of his picks seemed superb to me at the moment of selection, then were disappointments. Still others turned out very well. A recent example: Connor McMichael. I really liked this pick some years back, being a Dale Hunter-trained-man in Ontario. He scored all manner of highlight-reel goals in “junior.” His Caps and Bears career, jury is still out? Personally I’m disappointed the young lad didn’t tear up the NHL right away in his early Caps days. He now becomes a personal project of the incoming Carbery Administration.

    But then there are those other “Problematic Individuals” on the Caps — their Coaches! The Caps have had some good ones, and a whole bunch of total DISASTERS. McMichael played a long stretch for Coach Lavi. Essentially McMicheal didn’t produce. Got sent down to the Bears, where he has alternated streaks of brilliance (for 2 weeks) and invisible (for 2 weeks), rinse and repeat. A long-winded way of saying that many Caps’ busts and disappointments have been aggravated by bonehead coaching!

    Stephenson and Siegenthaler proved that HC Reirden was one of the all-time Caps busts behind the bench. He made the recommendations to GMBM to sack these fine hockey players who then found true success with Caps’ rivals. Ugggh.

    Number Eight is VERY high in the draft order for a Mahoney-led Caps’ selection team. Ross M. gets a bit of a “pass” in the past because his draft picks always started after all the “Sure thing” prospects had disappeared. This time it’s a Sure Thing. Don’t Blow It, Ross baby!

  4. Sprak says:

    As long as they don’t take Michkov I’ll be happy. Too many reports about his personality problems for me personally. A guy like Dvorsky, Leonard or Moore would be a better fit for the caps and would in the NHL earlier. The most Problematic thing about Michkov for me is the fight between Him and Miroshnichenko that happened a few years back. Sure it’s reported that they made up, but personalities don’t change that quickly, and they’re sure to butt heads if they play in the NHL together, better that they’re best friends on different teams than Butting heads on the Caps when things get rough.

  5. novafyre says:

    A Bolts fan site is reporting:

    Qatar sovereign wealth fund buys stake in Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics [AP News]

    The Qatar Investment Authority has reportedly bought a 5% stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent group that owns the Washington Capitals (NHL), Washington Wizards (NBA) and Washington Mystics (WNBA). This is the first time a sovereign wealth fund from Qatar has invested in U.S. professional sports franchises and follows on the heels of their neighboring country (Saudi Arabia) investing in the PGA Tour.

    • Prevent Defense says:

      Thanks for this excellent pull Novafyre
      Little details like this portend far more interesting stories in the years ahead

      • novafyre says:

        I have to think that at some point (if not already) Monumental makes a bid for the Hershey Bears.

  6. Lance says:

    The Caps need young stars like Backstrom and Carlson or even better. Aim high!

    I’m mixed on Michkov. I remember the Caps missing on Volchkov. That sucked! That was a very different draft year though. There were no stars that year or very few. 2023 looks like a fantastic draft year.

    You hope BMac and Ross have the process in place to find the best players. It’s fun as a fan to pick but I don’t enough background info. On the ice, I like what I’ve seen from guys projected in the 6-10 range. Leonard, Moore, Benson, Dvorsky.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sportsnet: Thanks to a small group of supposedly alpha NHL players being offended by a rainbow on Pride nights this past season, there will be no St. Patrick’s Day, military, cancer awareness, or other themed jerseys this coming season.

    I like! I thought the damn things would never go away. The politicized NHL stinks

    • Anonymous says:

      Why not let each individual player decide for themselves? The NHL decides to make an aching finger go away by popping off their arm.

      • novafyre says:

        Special jerseys I’m sure take a lot of time and money to design, produce, market, etc. Would be very hard to get individual commitments at the start of that long process.

  8. novafyre says:

    If you haven’t watched the game (or wish to rewatch it) AHLtv still has it for free. You can get either the Bears audio or, for something different, you could listen to the Firebirds’ announcers. If I have time, I like to listen to the other side and get their view of our players.

    During first intermission, I learned that the Hershey mayor will be getting 22 pounds of dates from the Valley’s mayor. I wonder if they will be at the Bears’ celebration this Saturday.

    The Kraken Director of Player Development also waxed about how the playoffs are going to be so important to their prospects many of whom he expects to see in Seattle this fall. He talked about how different playoff games were and just really emphasized how valuable this experience will be.

    The Firebirds is owned-and-operated by the Seattle Kraken. Things change, but in 2020 it appears that 20 of the 32 AHL teams had NHL owners.

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