Out of The Gate: Washington Capitals’ Youth Movement Off To Positive Start

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The Washington Capitals’ disappointing 2022-23 season resulted in an organizational admission that, while the team still eyes a run at a second Stanley Cup championship in the waning seasons of Alex Ovechkin’s playing career, the need for an infusion of youth was necessary going forward.

So it was perhaps no accident that when the team selected Right Wing Ryan Leonard in the first-round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, the selection came with the eighth overall pick, signifying an anecdotal point in Washington’s nearly 50-year history.

On Thursday, the club added more young players to their prospect pool, with Rounds 2-7 of the 2023 draft.

Capitals Select Andrew Cristall In The Second Round Of The 2023 NHL Entry Draft

The Capitals are still very much a veteran-led team, with the likes Ovechkin (in pursuit of a once-seemingly unbreakable record), Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson the remaining members of the Stanley Cup-winning roster of five summers ago. And while a full-on rebuild is out of the equation as long as The Great Eight is still firing one-timers from his office, the team’s movement towards a younger lineup has been promising.

After mutually parting ways with veteran Head Coach Peter Laviolette at the conclusion of the season, the Caps hired Spencer Carbery, a longtime farmhand who became the first coach in franchise history to serve as Head Coach at all three professional levels of the organization (Carbery previously served as the bench boss for the AHL’s Hershey Bears, as well as the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays).

Carbery, who at 41-years old is the first bench boss in franchise history to be born after the club’s inaugural 1974-75 season, signifies a step toward the future while maintaining the balance with the club’s veteran talent. With his history coaching a number of the team’s top prospects in the AHL with Hershey, Carbery is well-equipped to handle the task at hand.

“Not only have they lived, they played it”, Carbery said about the veteran leadership group during his introductory press conference, “But they’re champions, they’ve won a Stanley Cup here. Their opinions, what they see it’s important…I would attach that to the development part as well.”

“It’s our job as a coaching staff to come in and help these young players get caught up to speed as quickly as possible, it’s also the responsibility of our leadership group. They have a big part in ‘how can we get these young players ready to play and playing in a winning culture’, and that’s what I will specifically lean on our leadership group, and challenge them to do a good job in that department.”

While the looming shadow of free agency and the potential deals General Manager Brian MacLellan may make have yet to come to light, the Capitals’ step toward an infusion of young players now and down the road has been nothing short of promising.

By Michael Fleetwood

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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6 Responses to Out of The Gate: Washington Capitals’ Youth Movement Off To Positive Start

  1. Prevent Defense says:

    In the Caps’ first 35 seasons, the franchise routinely conducted entry drafts where all six or seven picks were busts – or at least disappointments. It was disgusting. Things got significantly better during the later McPhee and MacLellan administrations. The 2021, 22 and 2023 Caps draft classes look pretty good. They’d better be, or the franchise is in deep trouble

    • hockeydruid says:

      They got better scouts. As for the last 3 draft classes, I dont see a true superstar in the group. I see many players who could be solid players and maybe 1 or 2 who could be good players but no superstar or franchise player. What we need is to get very bad to get better and when w are bad draft wisely!! NO more Joly, or Volchkov or Pokulak. No more Semins or Kuzys. No more Joe Finleys.

  2. hockeydruid says:

    Glad they are thinking of a youth movement, as it is about time. Problem with this GM and also maybe the owner is they want to hang unto every player who won the Cup to long. You need to infuse new blood all the time. as I do not think this is possible except under duress with this GM and his staff I think maybe it is time to clean house and get a younger GM in. Better drafts come as a result of better scouting and better scouts come from a more resourceful and better GM. One who is more in touch with tomorrow rather than yesterday and today. Also it does not hurt to have a top 1-5 pick if you draft wisely. This team needs to draft its next super star in the next 2-4 years as although they have drafted well the past 3 years they have drafted good solid players but no superstar or franchise player!! And you are not going to get one in trade.

  3. novafyre says:

    I’d rather have 20 healthy solid good players than one injured superstar and the rest subpar.

    I like all I have read of the draftees’ attitudes. Sounds as though they have the desire and drive to get better and perform at their best. I’m happy with our selections.

    • hockeydruid says:

      What players say anymore and its the same with HC after and before a game or Gm’s about players…..its all from the same can. I go by what they do and honestly don’t care what they say at this stage as they have been coached on what to say to the media. Ever hear a player say; “I’m going to have the best subpar season ever and lots of turnovers and not score any meaningful goals.” Lets see what they do when they get to Hershey and training camp!!

      • novafyre says:

        I was focusing on what others said about their attitudes and their actions, not their self praise.

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