Capitals first round draft possibilites

 

The Washington Capitals find themselves with two first round picks in this weekends 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The picks, No. 11 and No. 16, give the team a chance to continue injecting young high-end talent into the organization. 

Washington will be busy too, with a league-high 11 draft picks over the weekend. 

In recent years, the Caps and general manager George McPhee have gone with the "best player available" draft strategy. The returns have been significant, adding talent up front like Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and others among the years. They've also struck gold on defense with young and upcoming stars like John Carlson, Karl Alzner and Dmitry Orlov. 

While McPhee and Co. have added serious talent in the top of the draft with guys like Ovechkin, Backstrom and Alzner, the team has made its draft living with late first round gems like Mike Green (29th overall in 2004), John Carlson (27th overall in 2008) and Marcus Johansson (24th overall in 2009). The Caps have also enjoyed great post first round success, nabbing goaltenders Michal Neuvirth in the second round in 2006 and 2012 playoff hero Braden Holtby in the fourth round in 2008. Both goalies could start this upcoming season and are widely viewed around the league as starting-caliber netminders at this point in their career. Combine this with the Caps pick of Semyon Varlamov back in 2006, who was flipped in a trade with Colorado for the Caps' extra first round pick this year, and the Caps have executed the draft about as well as any team in the league in recent years. 

Taking the best player available has bit the Caps before though, most recently with uber-talented Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov. The current best player not playing in the NHL fell in the 2010 draft to No. 26 and Washington becuase teams had concerns about him coming across to the states from his native Russian and the KHL. It turns out those fears were right, as Kuznetsov has not yet appeared in an NHL game and recently has reportedly signed a new two-year deal to stay in Russia. Tough blow to swallow for McPhee and the Caps, but if he does decide to come play in the NHL, the Caps will be sitting on a top-six forward with superstar ability. 

But enough reminiscing, let's take a look at the Caps' possibilities for their two first round picks this year.

No. 11: Matthew Dumba, D, WHL, TEUVO TERAVAINEN, LW, JOKERIT JR.

On Dumba: NHL.com draft gurus Adam Kimelman and Mike Morreale both have the Caps going defensive with the first pick (from Colorado) of the two first rounders. Kimelman has the Caps taking Red Deer Rebels defenseman Matthew Dumba of the WHL. Dumba, 19, finished the season ranked 11th in Central Scouting's Rankings. According to Morreale, Dumba is a high-risk, high-reward player along the blueline who led all WHL defenders in scoring with 20 goals. But despite the risk factor, scouts say the 5-foot-11, 173 pounder has a compete level that is off the charts and a major plus in their eyes. Said NHL Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald to NHL.com, “The one characteristic that Dumba brings [more] than the other guys is the fact his competitive level is off the charts.” Dumba definitely fits the Capitals mold of drafting defenseman that can move the puck and make plays, much like current blue liners Carlson and Green.

On Teravainen: The fast riser of the 2012 class has to be the smooth Finnish forward. He fits the bill for best player available and then some. While I doubt he makes in to No. 11, Teravainen has a high-end skill set and his vision has been compared to that of one Claude Giroux, who also slipped due to his size. While size issues could be a concern, 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds plus has worked out nicely for Giroux and should be no problem for the skilled Finnish winger. Again, this could be a long shot, but Teravainen would make a great addition to the Caps’ top-six forward group when he is NHL ready.

No. 16: Sebastian Collberg, Frolunda, SWEDEN,

On Collberg: The guy can score. He led Sweden to Gold at the World Championships and fits in with other speedy Caps prospects like 2010 draftee Marcus Johansson. While he isn’t the two-way player that Johansson is, Collberg has great offensive upside for a team with a need for high-skill, top-six forwards. Based on NHL.com mock drafts, there’s a chance that Collberg could be there when the Caps pick at No. 16. The Swede has also expressed interest in playing in the NHL very soon, which is great for the Caps because of the problems they’ve had getting Kuznetsov to come over.