The 2023 NHL Draft begins Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, with the Capitals choosing at #8 overall. In advance of this week’s festivities we continue our look back at recent drafts by the Capitals. In this post we look back at the players the Capitals drafted in 2013, 2003, 1993, and 1983.
This focus on each anniversary decade was inspired by a “Days Gone By” section of a small-town newspaper called “The Greeley Citizen”, which printed memories from “10 Years Ago”, “20 Years Ago”, “30 Years Ago”, “40 Years Ago”, and “50 Years Ago”.
Last season, NoVa Caps published memories of the drafts of the decades prior to 2022. Each decade section has a tagline for the draft, as it applied to the Capitals.
10 Years Ago – 2013 NHL Entry Draft — Dre Rocks
The 2013 NHL Draft took place on June 30, 2013, at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. A number of the players drafted in the first round had either genetic connections or hometown connections to other NHL players and professional athletes in other sports.
Photo: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post
The Capitals had the 23rd pick overall in the first round and selected winger Andre Burakovsky of the Malmo Redhawks in Sweden. He was the son of Robert Burakovsky, who briefly played in the NHL.
Burakovsky made his debut for the Capitals during the 2014-15 season and played with them through 2018-19. He was part of the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2018. He scored 17 goals for them in 2015-16 but his goal-scoring dropped off after that, as he lost time in each of the next three seasons due to either a broken hand or a broken thumb and was occasionally even a healthy scratch.
The Caps traded him to the Colorado Avalanche after the 2018-19 season for two draft picks. He was part of their Stanley Cup-winning team of 2021-22. He signed with the Seattle Kraken before the 2022-23 season where he remains.
Despite the injuries and inconsistency, he overperformed his draft position in relation to his draft class, as he currently ranks seventh in goals scored and tenth in overall points.
The Capitals eventually acquired one of the other first-rounders, Anthony Mantha, at the 2021 trade deadline. The Detroit Red Wings drafted Mantha with the 20th overall pick.
During the second round, the Caps selected defenseman Madison Bowey (Pick #53) and Zack Sanford (Pick 61). Both made it to the Capitals but neither really established themselves as regulars with the team. Bowey was part of the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2018 and was traded to the Detroit Red Wings at the 2019 trade deadline for defenseman Nick Jensen. Sanford was traded to the St Louis Blues at the 2017 trade deadline as part of the Kevin Shattenkirk deal and eventually was part of the Blues’ Stanley Cup-winning team in 2019.
The only other draft picks selected by the Capitals who played NHL games were Brian Pinho (Round 6, pick 174) and Tyler Lewington (Round 7, pick 204).
20 Years Ago – 2003 NHL Entry Draft — Is Life Fehr
The 2003 NHL Entry Draft was held at the Gaylord Center in Nashville, Tennessee on June 21 and 22, 2003. This draft is remembered as a relatively deep draft, as numerous first-rounders and even some second-rounders developed into stars.
The Capitals selected forward Eric Fehr with pick #18 overall. He made his NHL debut during the 2005-06 season, but due to numerous injuries, did not become a full-time NHL player until the 2008-09 season. He was traded to the Winnipeg Jets before the 2011-12 season where he had an injury-plagued and ineffective season. When the lockout of 2012 ended, he returned to the Caps and was converted to become a center, remaining with the Caps through the 2014-15. Fehr left the team to sign a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins and was part of their Stanley Cup winning team of 2016.
The only other player the Caps drafted in 2003 who made it to the NHL was Andrew Joudrey, who played in just one NHL game for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
30 Years Ago – 1993 NHL Entry Draft — Late Arriving Witt and Late Bloomers Who Got Away
The 1993 NHL Entry Draft took place on June 26, 1993, at the Colisée de Québec in Quebec City, Quebec. That draft was best known for the Ottawa Senators drafting Alexandre Daigle with the first overall pick, but ultimately disappointed.
For the Capitals, the theme of that draft was a very late-arriving first-round pick and two excellent late-bloomers who got away. They drafted defenseman Brendan Witt with pick #11 overall and center Jason Allison with pick #17.
Witt did not play for the Caps until 1995. The Caps tried signing him to a multi-year deal several times, but he kept turning them down, even though he would attend training camp. He finally signed a five-year contract worth $6.7 million, with $2.7 million as a signing bonus near midnight on July 9, just moments before the Capitals would lose their rights to signing him.
Once signed, he played with the Capitals from 1995-96 through 2005-06 before being traded to the Nashville Predators at the trading deadline. He was an important part of the Capitals team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998. He was also a co-Captain of the team for the 2000-01 season, along with Steve Konowalchuk. He spent the last four seasons of his career, 2006-07 through 2009-10, with the New York Islanders.
Their other first-round pick, center Jason Allison, did not earn a full-time role with the team until 1996-97. He did not live up to the Capitals’ expectations,and was packaged in the trade with the Boston Bruins where they acquired center Adam Oates. Allison blossomed into a very productive forward for the Bruins over four seasons with them and was named the Bruins’ captain after the departure of Ray Bourque.
Other draft picks from 1993 for the Capitals who made it to the NHL were:
- Patrick Boileau,
- Frank Banham, and
- Andrew Brunette
Brunette never could earn a full-time role with the Capitals. Hence, they exposed him to the expansion draft after the 1998-99 season and the Nashville Predators selected him. He ultimately became a productive forward who would score 20 goals a season for several teams. His NHL career ended after 2011-12 and he went on to become an NHL coach and was recently appointed as head coach of the Nashville Predators.
Viktor Kozlov, whom the San Jose Sharks drafted in the first round at sixth overall, eventually signed with the Caps in free agency before the 2007-08 season.
40 Years Ago – 1983 NHL Entry Draft — A Shallow Poile of Picks
The 1983 NHL Entry Draft took place at the Montreal Forum on June 8, 1983. It was a relatively thin class overall, but future Hall of Famers Pat La Fontaine, Steve Yzerman, Tom Barrasso, and Cam Neely were drafted in the first round.
This was the first draft conducted by David Poile during his tenure as General Manager. The Capitals had no picks until the fourth round where they chose Tim Bergland, a graduate from the University of Minnesota. He never established himself as a full-time NHL player during his tenure in the Capitals organization and was exposed to the expansion draft after the 1992-93 season where the Tampa Bay Lighting selected him. He made a brief return to the Caps during the 1993-94 season when the Capitals claimed him off waivers.
Two other players the Capitals drafted in 1993 made brief NHL appearances: Yves Beaudoin (Round 10 — Pick Number 195) and Alain Raymond (Round 11 – Pick Number 215). They also chose Anders Huss, from Sweden, with the pick they chose after Raymond. Huss never came over to America but later the Capitals drafted a nephew of his – Nicklas Backstrom.
50 Years Ago
The Capitals did not officially exist yet. The franchise had been awarded the prior year and preparations were being made for the team to begin play during the next season.