NHL Draft Game Plan: Washington Capitals

Sitting at #13, Will the Capitals Use or Trade Their Pick at the NHL Draft?

(Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
(Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

The NHL Draft is inching closer and is less than 24 hours away.  There is a lot of excitement in the air because there could be some big splashes made.  With teams wanting to trade up and trade down, and wanting to trade a few roster players around, the 2014 NHL Draft is shaping up to be a dandy.

It is no different for the Washington Capitals who will be picking at #13 in the NHL Draft.  Over the summer, the Capitals have gone under a major overhaul in their management office.  Brian MacLellan is the new General Manager of the Capitals, so this is his first NHL Draft making all the final calls.  New Capitals head coach Barry Trotz comes from the Nashville Predators, which is a very defenisve-minded organization.  With these new guys in charge, the Capitals have a breath of fresh air and should have a different Draft tone this time around.

Draft Choice Possibilities:

If the Capitals keep their #13 pick, there is many different directions they could go with this pick.  There is the obvious need for defensive help throughout the organization, but it is possible they could select a big centre or winger.

Let’s take a look at some prospects who could be on the Capitals radar:

Haydn Fleury – Defenseman – WHL (Red Deer)

Analysis: The 6’2″ defenseman from Saskatchewan is one of the best defenders ranked in the 2014 NHL Draft.  He already has the skating ability and size that is coveted in the NHL.  He may not make an immediate impact in Washington, but he has the mold of a defensemen that you could build your franchise around in the future.  With the Capitals thin on the blueline throughout the organization, Fleury could become a steal of a pick if he makes it down to #13.

Alex Tuch – Centre/Right Wing – USHL (USA U-18)

Analysis: Alex is a  hulking centre/winger that comes from the United States developmental program.  The Syracuse, NY native has committed to Boston College for the fall of 2014 and will play his college hockey there.  He has lots of grit and a nose for the net.  He will remind you of Tom Wilson, but with less of a physical nastiness to his game.

Anthony DeAngelo – Defenseman – OHL (Sarnia)

Analysis: Anthony is a pure bread offensive defenseman.  He led all OHL blueliners with 56 assists and 71 points for the 2013-2014 season.  While he has a smaller frame that could scare some teams off, he loves to push the pace and jump up into the play.  His shot is pretty good, but he is a very good playmaker on the back end.  Could he become the next Mike Green?

Julius Honka – Defenseman – WHL (Swift Current)

Analysis: Julius is another small defenseman that has tremendous vision of the game.  He is an offensive minded defenseman that has deceivingly good speed.  He reminds you of a Sami Vatanen and has the potential upside of Erik Karlsson.  He won a gold medal at the 2014 World Junior Championship.

Trading the #13 Pick…

There is the possibility that the Capitals could trade the #13 pick if they do not like the way the Draft is shaping up and what could fall to them.  If the Capitals could somehow get a serviceable defenseman who could play hard minutes, it might be worth trading the pick.

The Capitals have one of the best prospect pipelines in the whole NHL.  They could sacrifice some draft picks in order to get better right now.  With some holes on the blueline and potentially a hole on the second line, they will need to address these matters quickly to remain competitive.

The Best Solution

It is very tempting to trade the #13 pick for a player who could help right now.  It would not hurt the Capitals to try and go the trade route.  They need some established help, especially on the blueline.

Barry Trotz is going to demand a lot out of his Capitals defensive core.  He will expect them to play aggressive and he will expect them to be able to know when to stay back and to cover in their own end of the ice.  The Capitals do not have enough quality on the backend to make a deep run into the postseason.  More quality skating legs are needed for the blueline.

The Capitals could also address the second line with their #13 overall pick.  They could be in the market for a second line centre if Mikhail Grabovski departs, so they could very well do a Mike Ribeiro-type deal again at the Draft like they did a few seasons ago.  Barry Trotz will demand high pressure fore-checking from his centremen.  While the Capitals have Brooks Laich and (maybe) Evgeny Kuznetsov who can play the second line centre position, there could be some more depth added to the position.

The Capitals could be a sleeper team in this draft.  With loads of cap space, they can easily bring in high caliber talent with their picks and prospects.  The NHL Draft is a time in the calendar year where the Washington Capitals tend to shine.

It is unlikely that the Capitals will move up in the Draft, but the possibility is still there.  The Capitals have not picked a defensemen in the first round since 2008 when they selected John Carlson.  It may be time to change things up a little.  If there is a cornerstone defenseman or centre who could be available for the taking at the 2014 Draft, the Capitals need to draft them.

Excitement is building in America’s Hockey Capital.  It will be a fun ride to see what the Capitals do in this particular offseason.  They have a lot of flexibility and resources to use at their disposal.  With a couple of tweaks here and there, there is no doubt that the Capitals can contend for the Stanley Cup again.  But competing for the Stanley Cup all begins at the NHL Draft.  Capitals fans can only hope that the Capitals have another great NHL Draft.

Thanks for tuning in!