With the NHL draft beginning Friday night, you probably know by now that the Capitals hold 11 picks in this year’s festivities, including two first round selections. Below, I try and prognosticate whom Washington will take with those two first round picks, as they are key to restocking the talent pool in the DC farm system.
11th Overall Selection – From Colorado (Acquired July 2, 2012)
Option A: Jacob Trouba, D, USNTDP (USHL) – There is little chance that Trouba falls this far, but teams go off the reservation with top ten picks every year and it is possible that Trouba falls all the way to the Capitals at #11. The Michigan native is a big, strong, mobile defenseman who likes to model his game after Shea Weber and can move the puck. He would be a steal.
Option A-1: Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener (OHL) – Faksa is projected as low risk, medium to high reward player who will be a steady if unspectacular NHL contributor as a second line center the Capitals have craved for so long. Faksa can score, play defense, cycle well, and even play on the penalty kill, and would be a great pickup for the Capitals here. There is little that is missing from his game, and he would probably take one season to get to DC; regardless, adding depth at the center position is essential for the Caps at this moment. He is the most likely pick for George McPhee to make here in my book.
Option B: Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa (OHL) – Ceci doesn’t fill the Caps’ need for a center, but if Faksa is gone, Ceci would be a good pick here. He is big enough and strong enough to contribute right away, and can both run a power play and play a solid defensive game. He could look really nice next to Dmitry Orlov; he and DC’s young Russian defenseman would be a hell of a second pairing behind Karl Alzner and John Carlson (in about 4 years).
NOTE: Center Mikhail Grigorenko, who plays for Quebec in the QMJHL, has been predicted recently to fall outside of the top 10 despite being ranked in the top five for most of the season. Should that happen, it is certainly possible that the Capitals draft him – probably likely because of McPhee’s penchant for Russians. But he is a flight risk, and with Evgeny Kuznetsov staying in Russia for at least two years, it would be hard for the Caps to compensate for their two best prospects not coming to play in America.
16th Overall Selection – Washington’s own
Option A: Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville (OHL) – This may be a bit of a stretch for Gaunce, as most have him going in the 20s or even past 25th overall – but then again, some have him going as high as 13th overall. The bottom line with Gaunce is that he is a leader, on and off the ice. Scouts think he has all of the leadership qualities you want in a young player and potentially future captain. He’s also pretty good at hockey; he can score and play defense and, like Faksa, is viewed as an NHL second line center. One weakness, according to an OHL scout, is his skating – but that will get better with time he continues to develop and is a small hole in an otherwise very solid player. I would love to get him here and so should McPhee.
Option B: Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque (USHL) – If Gaunce is gone, I still expect McPhee to take a center. Giregensons is a Latvian but has spent the last several years playing in America, so there should be little concern about him jetting to Europe or adapting. He profiles as a solid two way center as has been compared to Ryan Kesler by some scouts; though that is probably a bit much he is a good player. One red flag: some scouts have questioned if he can be a true elite second line center. But his basement is a third liner by most accounts and he is a very energetic player.
Option C: Sebastian Collberg, LW, Frolunda (Elitserien) – Collberg fits the George McPhee pedigree of a skilled speedy scoring winger. He is flashy and has some unbelievable moves, but the return may not come for a couple of years as Collberg both wants to stay in Sweden and probably is not yet ready for the big time. I don’t think this pick is overly likely, but certainly possible.
Option D: Tom Wilson, LW, Portland (OHL) – Tom Wilson is a monster of a man, almost 6’5” and over 200 pounds. He is ruthless power forward who plays like Milan Lucic – and even though I hate Lucic and everything he represents, the Caps may benefit from having a player like him. I don’t think this is very likely because it’s a bit of a reach, but it’s certainly a possibility.
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