The Washington Capital are in a solid spot for the 1999 NHL Draft. They will be selecting seventh overall and they appear as if they’ll have quite a few options when their pick comes up.
Washington, who has a strong group of prospects throughout their system but they seem to have exhausted their supply of high quality skilled forwards the last two years. Washington still has a lot of talent up front (though keeping it healthy is another major question mark). Players like Jan Bullis (21), Richard Zednik (23), Jaroslav Svejkowsky (22), Matt Herr (23), and Beniot Gratton (22) still haven’t come close to realizing their full potential, with latter two having more to prove that the former three.
However, much of Washington’s true prospect depth is on defense and in goalie. On the blueline, Washington has Nick Boynton (20) (still unsigned at the time of writing), Alexei Tezikov (21), Nolan Baumgartner (23), Jean-Francois Fortin (20)and the fast rising Mike Siklenka (19). These five players provide a full range of skills, from size and toughness, to raw skill.
In goal, The Caps have a ton of young talent: Curtis Cruickshank (20), Jomar Cruz (19), Radislav Stana (19), Pierre-Luc Therrien (20)and Sebastein Charpentier (22). Which one of these five is the best depends on who you talk to. I persoanlly love Therrien but from what I’ve read it seems like Washington is high on Cruz. Stana appears to have the biggest upside.
Having said that, I think it’s a very safe assumption that Washington will not be picking either a defensemen or a goalie (Brian Finley) with their pick. Likewise, it’s seems extremely unlikely that Washington will not get a shot at any of the following skilled forwards: Daniel and Hendrik Sedin, Patrick Stefan, Pavel Brendl. After those four players go, the draft could go anywhere. A trade might not be out of the question, though I seriously doubt anyone is too desperate to get to #7. Their could be several moves in the top 5, but after that it should become best player available.
So let’s take a look who Washington may go after.
I would say that I feel that Tim Connelly may top Washington’s list of realistic picks. Connelly is a bit of a wild card following his broken leg. It seems that everyone sees him in different positions. He skill level is very strong and I’m sure every team doctor in the league will be look at rehab report, and examine how he’s progressing.
Jani Rita would be another player who the Caps should like. The skill Finn hasn’t yet proven he is a pure goal scorer and report suggest that his stock has dropped quite a bit, but his size and skill level is very strong.
Denis Shvidki is another player who might get a strong look. Shvidki has skill and skill but his consistency has been very poor. I don’t think he will go this high, as I feel others have passed him, but he is a name to keep in mind.
Kris Beech is a big centermen, which might be Washington’s position of choice. He plays strong at both ends and he a hard working player.
Taylor Pyatt, is the guy I think Washington will pick if he’s there./ The massive 6-4 left winger has been compared to Michael Rupp (9th pick last year), but those comparisons seem very unfair. Rupp was more raw the Pyatt and the big Sudbury forward has shown a might greater offensive upside. Pyatt could be one of the hottest properties going into the draft, and there seems to be a good chance he could go anywhere from 5th to 14th.
Smallish Seattle Thunderbird forward Oleg Saprykine is another name to keep in mind, though this seems way to high for him to go here. The Caps might like his play making a raw skill, which does remind some of Jan Bullis, but there appears to be better player on the board.
If the Caps don’t go with Pyatt then my second choice is Jamie Lundmark. A great skater with a better attitude. Lundmark appears to be another high riser, with his in your face style and willingness to do whatever it takes to win.
The last name I’ll add on reputation alone. I don’t know anything about him, but I have read reports that suggest he is flying up the boards due to his raw skill. The name is Martin Havlat, an I doubt he’d go #7, but Washington does a very good job scouting Europe and I’m sure they have fully dissected this kids ability.