Capitals 2010 draft preview

By Ian Altenbaugh

Top-10 Prospects

1. Semyon Varlamov, G
2. John Carlson, D
3. Karl Alzner, D
4. Michal Neuvirth, G
5. Mathieu Perreault, C
6. Marcus Johansson, LW
7. Andrew Gordon, RW
8. Francois Bouchard, RW
9. Dmitri Orlov, D
10. Dmitri Kugryshev, RW

The Capitals hold the 26th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Team Needs

The Capitals were the best offensive team in the NHL by 46 goals and scored 85 more than they allowed. With most of their forwards only now coming into their prime, this type of production can be expected to continue for the next couple seasons.

The defense, however, which was ranked 16th in the league, could use an upgrade. With the offensively gifted Mike Green on the back end, and emerging young defensemen such as Jeff Schultz and John Carlson playing in the NHL, the team is set on defense for years to come. That said there is a general lack of toughness on the NHL roster. The Capitals have acknowledged as much, already parting ways with Joe Corvo, a veteran puck-moving defenseman acquired at the trade deadline.

Karl Alzner, a tough two-way defenseman who split the 2009-10 season between the NHL and AHL, will be expected to vie for a full-time spot in 2010-11. The Capitals are also likely to address the need on defense through free agency and sign a player such as Anton Volchenkov.

The organization could also use an affordable veteran goaltender to backup likely starter Semyon Varlamov.

Organizational Strengths

Although the organization’s greatest strength is the presence of two potential starting goaltenders in Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, it is deep on offense and defense too. Braden Holtby has also emerged as a potential starting goaltender.

First-round picks Alzner and Carlson will be expected to compete for full-time duties on defense next season. Offensive defensemen Patrick McNeill and Zach Miskovic are in the minor-league system while blueliner Dmitri Orlov will be expected to join in another season.

Forwards Mathieu Perreault, Marcus Johansson, Jay Beagle, and Francios Bouchard could all, to varying degrees, be ready to contribute to the NHL roster in 2010-11. Gifted forwards such as Dmitri Kugryshev and Cody Eakin assure the offensive cupboards remain well stocked for the future.

Organizational Weaknesses

The Capitals have a general lack of toughness and physicality in their system, particularly at forward. Wingers like Garrett Mitchell and Stefan Della Rovere bring toughness to the organization but they are still several years away from making an impact. The same can be said for defensive prospects Brett Flemming, Patrick Wey, and Dustin Stevenson.

Draft Tendencies

The Capitals have made 42 selections in the last five drafts including 16 in the first and second rounds. Nine of those 16 were North American trained while seven were from Europe.

While they tend to draft the best available player in the early rounds, the organization drafts for need in the middle and later rounds. Expect that trend to continue as the organization will try to add some muscle and toughness to their prospect pool.

The Capitals own the 26th, 86th, 116th, 142nd, 146th, and 176th picks in the draft. They traded the 56th pick to the Minnesota Wild for Eric Belanger and the 206th pick picked to the Carolina Hurricanes for Scott Walker. They also picked up the 142nd last summer from the Phoenix Coyotes for Sami Lepisto.

Hockey’s Future Staff Mock Draft result at No. 26: Tyler Pitlick

A gifted two-way center, Pitlick would bring a blend of goal-scoring and leadership to the Capitals.