It was a busy couple of days for the Washington Capitals, who had more picks than anyone else in the NHL entering the draft. As a result, there have been multiple adjustments to the Caps organization.
I'll split this into two parts - welcome and goodbye.
A Warm Caps Welcome To.....
The Caps acquired Mike Riberio in return for Cody Eakin and the 54th pick this year. This is a great move for the Caps, as Ribeiro is capable of 60-70 points a season, and has a single all star game appearance under his belt. He will slot in the second line center position behind Backstrom, and is the answer to our "Where is our second line center?!!11!!! Fire GMGM!!!!!!11!!". He carries a hefty $5 million cap hit, but has only one year left on this contract, meaning that we have an insurance policy if things don't work out. At age 32, he is an experienced player and will be a good fit in the locker room. Can't wait to see him in Red come September.
With the Capitals first pick of the 2012 Draft at number 11 (from Colorado) , the Caps selected Forsberg, who was widely predicted to be selected in the top five, but, thanks to the hockey gods - and defensive needs of other teams - we landed the highly touted Swedish center. Measuring 6'1 and weighing 188 pounds, once he puts more weight on, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Look to see him in the Caps' lineup in October 2013 - and if his game keeps improving, look for him to steal Nicky's no.1 center spot eventually. A great pick for the Caps.
The Caps picked again five spots later, and selected right wing Thomas Wilson. Ever thought when watching the Caps, "why can't we play more physical?" - here's your man. This guy only turned 18 in late March, but he looks about 25. Measuring at 6'3 and weighing 205 pounds, he will be terrifying. He was voted best hitter in the OHL this year, and was runner up in 'hardest worker'. He bases his game on Milan Lucic, who, despite being a Caps fan I have always enjoyed watching and personally base my game off him (don't expect me to get my name called next year though!) If any sucker messes with a Cap in a couple of years' time, they better be scared.
61 picks later, in the third round, the Caps selected Chandler Stephenson out of the Regina Pats of the WHL. The guy's a versatile player who can play on the left wing or as a center, and saw his draft stock rise this year, scoring 22 goals and putting up 42 points in 55 games this year, at the tender age of 18. Expect him to crack the roster eventually, but give him time with Hershey. Potential is always hard to judge, but he has a good chance of reaching the NHL.
Thomas Di Pauli
This guy came in at number 100. As his name suggests, this kid is actually Italian but moved to the US to peruse his hockey dream. He's yet another forward, a center. He could grow a bit, measuring 5'11 and weighing 188 pounds, but is a good pick, scoring twenty points this year in the USHL. He sure has a shot at making the NHL, but is by no means a safe bet.
Picked 107th, this kid is... you guessed it, yet another forward! He plays on the right wing, this year for Notre Dame in the NCAA. He is 6'1 and weighs 190 pounds, but he is almost 19. College players are unpredictable in the NHL, and this guy is no exception. As with most players outside the top 100, it will take him at least several years to make the NHL, if at all.
So the Caps selected another forward, right? No! It's a defensman this time, and the third USHL player the Caps have selected this year, putting up 18 points. Selected at 137, he was ranked 124 coming into the draft, rising from 157 in the midterm rankings. He will be going Michigan College, as 'my mom would kill me if I don't get a degree' . As usual with the later picks, you should allow several years before expecting them to break into the NHL.
This forward, selected by the Caps 167th, is a Pittsburgh native. He's a right winger, measuring 6'0 and weighing 194 pounds. He put up 20 goals and 35 points in 55 games in the USHL this year, and expect him to go to college. Will he be a Caps player in the future? It could happen, after all his ranking rose from his midterm of 141 up to 86. Obviously, as a later pick he is far from a sure bet.
The Caps selected this Swedish defenseman 195th overall. He isn't playing at men's level yet, as he is still seventeen, but he picked up 24 points this season in 40 games, not bad for a defensman going this late in the draft. He's a long shot to make the NHL, and will most likely stay in Sweden for at least another 2-3 years before probably making his way up thru the AHL or ECHL.
Selected 197th overall, this guy's a defensman for the Calgary Hitmen. He'll be 19 in September and has very good size at 6'4 and weighing 223 pounds, one of the heaviest draftees this year. He put up 23 points in 55 games this year, with 124 PIMs. No prizes for guessing his style of play. He could well be Erskine's replacement.
It wouldn't be a Caps draft if we didn't select a Russian, or a goalie at that. Selected 203rd, he was 3rd goalie on the Russian World Junior roster this year. His stats aren't too impressive, but he's a goalie, so you never know. Hey, Lundqvist was selected 205th, and he won the Veniza this year!
A Sad Caps Farewell To....
The ginger ninja was shipped off to Texas with this year's second round pick for Mike Riberio. With plenty of centers for the Caps this draft, Eakin was quite expendable. He spent only one season with the Caps after they selected him 65th in 2010. He picked up 8 points in 30 games. He will definitely become a regular within a couple of years, but don't be shocked if he's not in the NHL this year. Everyone at Caps Across The Pond wishes him all the best out west. However, his departure was necessary to secure our second line center position.
It's been an exiting draft and I can't wait for free agency, and then the start of the season! Let's go Caps!