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