The Washington Capitals came into the 2013 NHL Draft with eight picks. There was speculation that the Capitals could trade their first round pick at number 23 in order to either move up or move down. As it turns out, both options were considered.
"We worked it hard to try to move up," said Capitals General Manager George McPhee. "Once we got past 12 to 15 players, we might as well as sit."
Asked why he was able to move up McPhee replied, "People in the top eight don't want to move all the way down to 23."
Capitals top pick Andre Burakovsky appeared to be the last target for McPhee, "If he wasn't there, we were going way off the board and trade our first for some seconds".
The Capitals later traded three middle round picks in order to move up for an additional second round pick to select Zach Sanford. They finished the draft with three late picks that all could be characterized as hard working, competitive players with good work ethic – all traits for good depth and role players. The Capitals drafted a total of six players and while none look to be ready soon, all are promising new prospects.
Andre Burakovsky, LW, Malmo Redhawks (Allsvenskan)
1st round, 23rd overall
Height: 6'1 Weight: 176
Son of former NHL player Robert Burakovsky, Andre is a skilled playmaking forward who skates well and has the ability to put the puck in the net. He is a high risk, high reward pick as he did not put up the numbers expected of a first round pick. In previous seasons, Burakovsky was dominant in Sweden's junior leagues, but playing in the men's Allsvenskan league proved to be a struggle.
"Last season I started pretty good," said Burakovsky. "I had a little rough [streak] and coach put me on the bench. I wanted to prove to [him] every day that he was wrong to put me [there]. So I worked hard every day [and] I think I finished the season pretty good."
While only putting up 11 points in 43 games with Malmo, he had four goals in five games for the World Junior Championship team and thrived in other International play. In the end, playing with older and stronger players may speed up his progress to the NHL. He is still likely two years out before competing for a spot on the Capitals.
There is still uncertainty going into 2013-14 when it comes to where Burakovsky will play. He was selected by the Erie Otters (OHL) in the CHL import draft, but has indicated he was not thrilled to be selected by Erie. He is still negotiating with both Malmo and Rogle BK in Sweden and it's looking more likely that he will play in Europe. The Capitals have no preference where he plays as he could benefit from playing either place.
Madison Bowey is an outstanding skating defenseman who can play physical and has an offensive upside which he is just starting to realize. Last season for Kelowna he had 12 goals and 30 points with a plus-41 rating. He is very strong in his own end and his athleticism and smart play make him good with the puck.
Bowey describes his game as simple. "When I play my best hockey that's kind of the way I play."
Capitals General Manager praised Bowey, "Real bright kid, competitive kid, and the scouts said this feels like a real sensible player."
Though Bowey's goal is to make NHL out of training camp, he will almost assuredly return to the WHL for at least one more season.
"Going back to Kelowna will be a big step for me," Bowey said. "I think I'll be a leader on that team this year and we'll have another great team."
Hockey's Future shot video of the Capitals' top two picks, Burakovsky and Bowey, at the 2013 NHL Draft. You can view their extended remarks in this HF video.
Zach Sanford, LW, Middlesex Islanders (EJHL)
2nd round, 61st overall
Height: 6'3 Weight: 190
In order to draft Sanford, the Capitals traded their 3rd and two 4th round picks to move up to the 61st pick. The Capitals felt was Sanford was the last player before quite a dip in talent and moved up to take the surging forward. Listed at left wing, Sanford is also a center who moved up from 83rd to 60th in the final Central Scouting rankings. In 37 games for the Islanders, Sanford had 13 goals and 36 points.
Sanford has good hands and is a strong playmaker with a hard and accurate shot. He is big at 6'3, but needs to better use his size, which will be a focus of his growth. Learning to use his size and developing his raw talents are the keys necessary to make Sanford reach what could be a very high potential.
Sanford will likely play for the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) and he has committed to playing for Boston College starting in 2014-15. There has been talk that he could go directly to Boston College this fall. Either way, Sanford is still a bit raw and will take some development before he is ready for the NHL.
Blake Heinrich, D, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
5th round, 144th overall
Height: 5'11 Weight: 194
Though he stands at 5'11, Blake Heinrich plays a punishing style of hockey. He played 42 games for Sioux City last season and managed 20 points and 110 penalty minutes. Heinrich plays with a high level of competiveness on the ice, but is known for his leadership and good character off the ice. He is a good skater who is strong on his skates, but does not stand out for his speed.
Heinrich will play for the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he will continue to play against stronger and bigger players. Heinrich is a player who is considered to have limited upside, as he will never be overly big or provide much offense. Instead, he must continue to develop his areas of strengths to become a shutdown defenseman with a nasty edge who can show he can skate with the top offensive lines of his opponents.
Brian Pinho, C, St. John's Prep (Massachusetts HS)
6th round, 174th overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 171
Brian Pinho was a dominant high school player for St. John's Prep in a very competitive high school league. In 21 games, he tallied 12 goals and added 24 assists in his second year as captain of the team. Pinho has grown in size during his high school career and his participation at the USA Hockey National Development camp the past few summers has helped him play against some of the best players of his age.
A strong two-way forward, Pinho has good vision and puck-handling skills and is responsible in his own end. He can play multiple roles as needed and has been a strong defensive forward, quarterbacked the powerplay, and contributed as a penalty killer. He also works hard and plays with a very competitive spirit.
Pinho is still growing and will need to be stronger as he plays against better players. He needs to translate his high school success to this next level of hockey and continue his development as a two-way center. He will be playing in the USHL for 2013-14 and will follow that up by attending Providence College in 2014.
The Capitals may have found a steal with their final pick in the 2013 draft when they selected Tyler Lewington, a physical player who is quick to drop his gloves. In his second season with the Medicine Hat Tigers, he led the team with 131 penalty minutes. He is a strong player who impressed at the draft combine when he finished first in bench press, push-ups, push strength, and pull strength.
Central Scouting had him ranked 66th amongst North American skaters and The Hockey News rated him 94th overall. The Capitals were able to snag the feisty defensemen with the 204th pick.
While known as a more defensive defenseman, Lewington contributed offensively for the Tigers in 2012-13, posting two goals and 26 points in 69 games. His points were tied for first among defensemen on the team.
Next season, Lewington will return to Medicine Hat where he can hopefully maintain his offensive game while also improving his defensive play.
Hockey's Future spoke with Sanford and Lewington at the 2013 NHL Combine, conversations that were captured for this HF video.
Follow Eric Scheib on Twitter via @EricScheib_HF