They’ve been hearing it all their lives: “You’re too small”, “You haven’t scored enough”, “Undrafted players never make it to the NHL”. Well, don’t look now, but Glen Metropolit and Jeff Halpern are doing just fine, thank you very much. They may have taken different paths to get here, but they are living out their dreams that seemed out of reach for so long.
At the start of last season, Metropolit and Halpern were wondering when and if their NHL careers would ever start. One year later, they were standing on the ice at the National Car Rental Center in Miami on opening night wearing their Capitals uniforms. Metropolit began last year with the IHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins without an NHL contract. It was his second year with the Griffins, and his fourth pro season during which he had played for five different teams. Halpern was playing out his senior season at Princeton University, and although there was interest from NHL clubs, he was prohibited from signing a contract until he had graduated. But by the end of the 98-99 season, both had come to terms with the Caps, and were playing in the AHL with the Portland Pirates. Glen played in twelve games, scoring five goals and eight points, while Jeff suited up for six games – scoring two goals and three points.
June 30, 1999 Washington does not pick up the option on the following copntracts: Mike Rosati G, Kelly Miller RW, Brian Bellows RW.
July 7, 1999 Signed D/LW Mike Siklenka, the team’s fifth-round pick (118th overall) in 1998.
August 9, 1999 Signed D Jamie Huscroft, as a free agent.
August 18, 1999 Traded Beniot Gratton C to Calgary for D Steve Shirreffs.
August 19, 1999 Washington resigns G Martin Brochu.
Washington Capital Top 25 Prospects:
rank name (position) size age (DOB) 98-99 location
1. Kris Beach – C 6-2 178 18 (2/5/81) Calgary (WHL)
2. Alexei Tezikov – D 6-1 197 21 (3/2/78) Rochester (AHL) /
3. Scott Swanson – D 6-2 190 24 (2/22/75) Colorado College (WCHA)
4. Nolan Baumgartner – D 6-1 200 23 (3/23/76) Portland (AHL)
5. Matt Herr – LW 6-1 180 23 (5/26/99) Portland (AHL)
6. Michal Sivek – C 6-3 209 18 (1/28/81) Trenic (Czech Rep.)
7. Charlie Stephens – C/RW 6-3 229 18 (4/5/81) Guelph (OHL)
8. Mike Siklenka – D/LW 6-4 215 19 (12/18/79) Seattle (WHL)
9. Curtis Cruickshank – G 6-2 209 20 (3/21/79) Kingston / Sarina (OHL)
10. J-F Fortin – D 6-2 190 20 (3/15/79) Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
11. Ratislav Stana – G 6-1 161 19 (n/a) Moose Jaw (WHL)
12. Patrick Bolieau – D 6-0 190 23 (2/25/76) Indianapolis (IHL) Read more»
The Washington Capitals may not have the best group of prospects in hockey anymore, but how can you blame them? The team has graduated some awful good talent in the past few years: Jan Bulis, Jaroslav Svejkowsky, Richard Zednik, and Brendan Witt. This past June, the Capital lost their top overall prospect in defensemen Nick Boynton to draft re-entry, however, the loss hasn’t been all that difficult to absorb, as the Capitals still have a very impressive group of prospects, especially on defense.
The Capitals were able to overcome the loss of Boynton when they were able to select five of the top thirty-seven players available in the 1999 draft. Drafting quality players like Kris Beech, Michal Sivek and Charlie Stephens certainly helped refresh the pool quickly, though none of the five players picked represent the defensive power they have.
The teams real quality though lies on the blueline. Prior to the 1999 draft, the group is so strong, and well rounded, that Washington decided not to over pay rookie 1997 first round pick, Nick Boynton. The two sides argued back and fourth before Washington gave up, trying to trade him just prior to the re-entry date. The ploy failed and Washington had to settle for a second round compensation pick.
Let’s look at Washington’s top six defensive prospects.
The Washington Capitals didn’t waste much time replenishing their rather depleted prospect pool. With five of the top thirty-seven picks on Saturday, Washington was virtually guaranteed to come away with a strong group of players. The Capitals did not disappoint.
Once the calm had hit the Fleet Center, following the wild opening to the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Washington just sat back and waited to see who the Islanders and Nashville would take. I’m pretty sure that, Capitals, General Manager, George McPhee was thrilled to see the player who many felt was the fifth best player (outside the universal elite four) still on the board.
Kris Beach must have been an easy choice for Washington. Though Kris is a bit on the thin side weighting only 178 pounds, but at 6-foot-2 he has room to grow. I’m sure the Capitals will find a way of beefing up this Western Hockey League star.
Beech is described as an explosive skater with a quick first step and a fluid stride. He is very agile and pivots either way equally well making it hard for opponents to hit him in open-ice. His play making skills are considered top end and his puckhandling may have been the best in the draft. Although he is on the thin side, Kris has shown a willingness to play along the wall and he gets into scoring position well. Though his offensive game is impressive, Beech is also a willing back- checker. He understands that the defensive end is important and he does what has to be done to stop an opponent.
The 1999 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone and the Washington Capitals did a very good job resupplying their prospects ranks. The Capitals had 5 of the top 37 picks in the draft, and all five of those were added to the new ranking.
I decided to include several players who finished the season with Washington, because none are guaranteed a roster spot next season. Those players are: Alexei Tezikov, Nolan Baumgartner, Matt Herr, Beniot Gratton and Patrick Bolieau.
Team Strength Team Weaknesses
- Strong goaltending depth – Little raw skill
- Lots of solid two-way defensemen – Little pure scoring depth
- Plenty of size and toughness – Lack of a pure #1
defensemen or goalie – Good speed
June 21, 1999
Washington has acquired the rights to center Jeff Nelson from the Nashville Predators in exchange for future considerations. The club also announced it has signed Nelson to a two-year NHL contract. Nelson spent last season with Nashville and Milwaukee (IHL)
June 1, 1999
Washington was unable to work out a contract with 1997 draft pick Nick Boynton, he re-enter the 1999 draft and Boston picked him at #21 overall.
Jean-Luc Thieren (G) was not offered a contract, he also re-enters the draft, but goes unselected.
May 27, 1999
Curtis Cruickshank (G) is signed to a three year contract. Washington picks up the option year on Trevor Halverson’s (LW) contract.
May 19,1999 Read more»