Washington Capitals: Nail The Draft
With Alex Ovechkin leading the way, the Capitals have made the playoffs 13 times in the past 14 seasons and won the Stanley Cup in 2018. While Ovechkin has been a major part of their success, scoring 750 goals in his 17-year career, the front office has been able to nail their draft picks.
Ovi has been surrounded by high-end talent including Nicklas Bäckström, John Carlson, Evgeny Kuznetzov, and Brayden Holtby. Throw in key role players in Mike Green, Alexander Semin, Tom Wilson, Jakub Vrana, Marcus Johansson, Dmitry Orlov, and André Burakovsky and it’s no surprise that the Caps have been able to stay a constant playoff contender.
Former GM George McPhee and current GM Brian MacLellan have been excellent at drafting and have been able to provide the Caps over the years with enough talent to keep their window open. Entering this season, a major concern was that the Caps core was aging and nearing its limits.
In response and partly due to injuries, MacLellan has infused the roster with youth, promoting prospects Connor McMichael, Aliaksei Protas, Brett Leason, Martin Fehérváry, and Hendrix Lapierre. Each of them has posted at least one point (a goal or assist) and has shown how much depth the Caps have. Currently, the team is first in the Metro with 40 points.
The National’s core grew old and their draft picks were unable to provide enough assistance. Since 2012, the Nationals have spent their first-round picks on Lucas Giolito, Erick Fedde, Carter Kieboom, Dane Dunning, Seth Romero, Mason Denaburg, Jackson Rutledge, Cade Cavalli, and Brady House.
Giolito and Dunning were sent to the White Sox in the Adam Eaton trade while, Romero, Denaburg, Rutledge, Cavalli, and House are all still in the minors. Fedde and Kieboom have struggled in their time with the Nats and have yet to prove they are long-term pieces.
Rutledge, Cavalli, and House are all touted prospects that are seen as key parts of the rebuild but are all at least a year away. Due to the team’s struggles in the draft, their window was abruptly shut.