With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft now just a week ago, it is time to preview how General Manager George McPhee and the Washington Capitals might go about their business.
The Caps have an NHL-high 11 picks in this very deep draft:
1st Round: 11th Pick (acquired from Colorado for Semyon Varlamov)
1st Round: 16th Pick
2nd Round: 54th Pick (originally belonging to Boston, acquired from Colorado for Semyon Varlamov)
3rd Round: 77th Pick
4th Round : 100th Pick (acquired from Winnipeg for Eric Fehr)
4th Round: 107th Pick
5th Round: 137th Pick
6th Round: 167th Pick
7th Round: 195th Pick (acquired from Calgary for Keith Seabrook)
7th Round: 197th Pick
7th Round: 203rd Pick (acquired from Pittsburgh for Tomas Vokoun)
For starters, let's look at the two 1st-rounders. Since the Caps acquired the Colorado pick back in July of 2011, speculation has been ever present that the Caps might look to trade the choice for a roster player or higher pick. After all, it is the highest pick the Caps have held since the 2007 5th-overall pick that yielded Karl Alzner. Coupled with the team's own 1st-round pick, the Caps could likely bring home a lofty return. That said, GMGM, said in a press conference with local media on Thursday that the team would likely keep the picks, so, for now, it would appear as if the Caps will leave the draft with two 1st-round players in hand.
The Caps, having drafted well in recent seasons, don't have many holes that need to be addressed in the 1st-round.
The organization has phenomenal goaltending depth, as evidenced by the impressive play this season of Philipp Grubauer in South Carolina and Steffen Søberg in the Norwegian GET-Ligaen.
On defense, Dmitry Orlov is ready to break into the NHL fulltime, while Tomas Kundratek, Kevin Marshall, and Cam Schilling should battle it out for one roster spot come training camp. The likes of Brett Flemming, Garrett Haar, Patrick Koudys, and Patrick Wey, while longer-term options, are still very solid prospects.
And on offense, Cody Eakin, Stanislav Galiev, Caleb Herbert, and Evgeny Kuznetsov leave little to be desired in the points-production facet of the game, while Travis Boyd, Garrett Mitchell, Danick Paquette, and Mattias Sjögren provided great depth in terms of role players.
That said, there are specific areas where the Caps could improve, for example at second-line center. Marcus Johansson, while having all the skills needed of such a player, has been more effective on the wing, Evgeny Kuznetsov appears to be a couple of seasons away from NHL-action, and Brooks Laich seems to serve the team better when anchoring the third-line. Options exist at both 11th overall and 16th overall, with Radek Faksa, Brendan Gaunce, and Zemgus Girgensons expected to go in that neighborhood. The team could also use a physically-inclined defensive defenseman to complement the more offensively-potent blueliners. Cody Ceci, Slater Koekkoek, Griffin Reinhart, and Jacob Trouba will be considered.
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft starts on June 22nd in Pittsburgh.