With the 37th pick of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Washington Capitals have selected Ryan Chesley from the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP)
About Ryan Chesley
Among the top defensemen available in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Ryan Chesley is as sturdy as they come. He plays a responsible game that makes him a highly projectable prospect, and he comes from a program that prides itself on developing well-rounded players. He may not have the high-end potential that other defenders in this class have, but he already has the makings of a solid NHL defenseman.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft: Live Tracker
Standing at 6-foot and just under 200 pounds, Chesley already has a pro-level frame, and his physical tools should only get better with time. Committed to the University of Minnesota for next season, he’ll look to build on a solid defensive game while also trying to add a bit more explosiveness into his offensive toolkit.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Chesley has great strength and has great body positioning to gain that edge and separate the player from the puck. Even though he has average speed, he has a very smooth skating stride as he manages to stay with his assignments and maintain positioning. He isn’t afraid to bring the physical play and use that to his advantage in battles along the boards and make a timely hit. He’s also great at clearing bodies in front of the net and tying up his opponents to make sure there are no second chance opportunities.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
“Chesley has no problem getting into the shooting lanes and sacrificing the body. What I really like about him is that he also has a very active stick and the awareness to step up and break up plays. This is noticeable in penalty kill situations, but also at even strength when defending against the rush. He’s extremely effective at using his long reach to stick check and break up a play, regain control and quickly transition the other way by carrying or passing the puck off.
“The biggest question mark regarding Chesley is his lack of offensive production and if it can translate at the NHL level. He posted 34 points in 37 games with the U17 team in 2020-21 but hasn’t quite matched that kind of production at the U18 level as it has been underwhelming.
“Chesley does possess a good shot with power behind his release. He puts himself in a good spot to open himself for those shooting opportunities or place the puck in a good spot with his shot from the point. Although he may not join the rush as often like teammate Seamus Casey, when he does, he can be a real threat in transition. Chesley does an excellent job at protecting the puck when exiting the zone and to jump start an attack with poise. Even if he may not have a clear entry, he chips the puck in effectively for his teammates to go in and attack with speed. Chesley also has great control and can make moves in tight spaces even dealing with pressure.
“Even if the production isn’t there, he does have that untapped potential as there are things to like about his offensive game.”
How This Affects the Capitals’ Plans
The days of John Carlson patrolling the Capitals’ blue line are coming to end, slowly but surely. In adding Chesley, the Capitals added a player that could be future minute-muncher on Washington’s blue line. He doesn’t have the highest upside among defenders in this draft, but he has the makings of a solid and dependable middle-pairing guy. That’s the type of talent you hope you can get with an early second round pick.
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