Washington Capitals enjoying benefits of a fruitful 2009 NHL Draft class

By Josh Buckingham

Marcus Johansson - Washington Capitals

Photo: Selected 24th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, forward Marcus Johansson has developed into a very solid top-six forward for the Washington Capitals. (courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)

The Washington Capitals entered the 2009 NHL Draft following a very emotional playoff exit where they lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to their rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in a decisive game seven.

Before entering the postseason, the Capitals decided against making any trade deadline moves to bolster their roster for a playoff run, which saved them losing any of their important prospects. This left the organization with a very deep prospect pool that they could continue to add to. Their main needs entering the draft were to find that elusive second line center they had long been seeking and to continue to add defensive depth.

Marcus Johansson, LW, Färjestad BK Karlstad (SHL) – 1st round, 24th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 242

Johansson entered the draft after playing his first full season in Sweden's top professional league scoring five goals and adding five assists in 45 games. In his sophomore season he doubled both his goal and assist totals for 10 and 10 respectively in 42 games. He also captained Sweden's U20 WJC squad in his second World Junior appearance. Following this season the Capitals felt he was ready to make the jump across the pond and hopefully fill their second line center void.

After a successful camp, he cracked the Capitals 2010-11 opening night roster and played 69 regular season games and nine more in the playoffs. He tallied 27 points in the regular season and got hot in the postseason adding six more.

He had an inside track to earn the second line center role in 2011-12, but the season was one of instability thanks to the firing of coach Bruce Boudreau and the hiring of Dale Hunter as his interim replacement. All of the distractions aside, this season proved to be his best for him posting 46 points in 80 games. Stats aside he was still unable to entrench himself on the second line.

In the 2012 offseason the Capitals finally acquired a second line center by dealing their second round selection in that draft (54th overall), and fellow 2009 NHL draftee Cody Eakin, to the Dallas Stars in exchange for playmaking center Mike Ribeiro. The organization also signed ex-player Adam Oates as their new head coach and he brought with him a new style of play to Washington. After a sluggish start to the shortened 2012-13 NHL season, Johansson finally caught his stride after being placed on the top line left wing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin. This turned his play around as he had instant chemistry alongside these two high-powered superstars. He has proven to be a versatile complementary winger ever since and currently has 36 points through 59 NHL games.

Dmitry Orlov, D, Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL) – 2nd round, 55th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 98

Orlov has experienced a lot of ups and downs on his way to the NHL. Following his draft season he played two full seasons in the KHL. At the conclusion of his 2010-11 KHL season he joined the Capital's AHL affiliate Hershey Bears for 19 regular season and six playoff games.

He played his way onto the Capitals roster in 2011-12, appearing in 60 games and posting three goals and 16 assists. However, due to the coaching change that year, he fell out of favor with Hunter and was scratched for the remaining games as well as the playoffs.

The 2012 NHL lockout could not have come at a less opportune time for Orlov. While playing in Hershey and waiting for NHL play to return, he sustained a concussion and several other injuries which limited him to 31 games in the AHL and five in the NHL.

Orlov entered the 2013-14 hoping to earn a spot with the Capitals out of camp, but was instead assigned to the AHL out of training camp. He managed nine points in 11 AHL games and when he was not called up, he requested a trade, which triggered the Capitals to call him up. He has appeared in 31 games since his recall, paired mostly with Mike Green. It finally appears that he has settled in as a fulltime defenseman.

Cody Eakin, C, Swift Current Broncos (WHL) – 3rd round, 85th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 136

Drafted for his combination of skill and two-way ability, Cody Eakin had two very productive seasons in the WHL following his selection in the NHL, combining for a total of 174 point trough 126 regular season games, and making an appearance at the 2011 Memorial Cup with the Kootenay Ice.

He joined the Hershey Bears in the 2011-12 season and adapted quickly to the pro style of game. He even appeared in 30 NHL games, managing four goals and four assists.

Eatn was traded to the Stars as part of the package that brought in Mike Ribeiro, and immediately entrenched himself as a fulltime NHL forward. He played in all 48 games of the shortened 2012-13 NHL season, potting seven goals and adding 17 helpers. This season he has played in all 58 games with the Stars, scoring 12 goals and setting up 16 others.

Patrick Wey, D, Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL) – 4th round, 115th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 3

The Capitals drafted Wey after a very successful sophomore season playing for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL. When they drafted him, they knew he was committed to play college hockey for the powerhouse Boston College. He then completed four successful seasons as a defensive stalwart at Boston College winning two National Championships in 2010 and 2012. He turned pro following the completion of his college career in 2013 and has seen action in the ECHL, AHL, and NHL this season.

Wey is a very solid defensive blueliner. He performed quite admirably in his three games with the Capitals and did not seem out of place. His foot speed is the one thing that is holding him back at the moment from being a fulltime NHL. Wey has the upside to be a bottom pairing defenseman with the Capitals in the near future.

Brett Flemming, D, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors (OHL) – 5th round, 145th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Flemming was drafted as a high scoring defenseman with offensive upside. In his final OHL season he posted 43 points in 68 games. He has struggled to become a fulltime AHL defenseman since turning pro however, and has spent most of his time in the ECHL these past three seasons. At this point, he appears destined to be a career minor league defenseman.

Garrett Mitchell, RW, Regina Pats (WHL) – 6th round, 175th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Mitchell is a grinding winger that plays with a lot of intensity. Now in his third season as a pro, he experienced a very disheartening shoulder injury that required season ending surgery. This injury has put his future with the Capitals in jeopardy due to their depth on the right wing side and Oates' tendency to play his wingers on their handiness side.

Benjamin Casavant, LW, Prince Edward Island Rocket (QMJHL) – 7th round, 205th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Casavant is a hulking winger that put up big numbers with three different QMJHL squads. After he aged out of junior he left North America for France for a season before returning to play in a low tier professional league in Quebec this season.