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.
On Tuesday, March 23, the NHL trade deadline came and went. For Alexei Tezikov, his career with the Buffalo Sabres organization came to an end not long after it began. Tezikov had only been contracted to the Sabres since January 3, 1999. He missed half of his rookie season due to a lengthy contract dispute with management, but once he arrived in Rochester, fans and management could see he was a very talent player.
One of the reasons the Sabres played hardball with the former 1996 5th round draft pick, was that they had a glut of quality defensive prospects (Cory Sarich, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Jason Holland, Dmitri Kalinin, Brian Campbell, etc., etc.) and they knew that Tezikov, though a quality hockey player, was really not needed, so management refused to give much in the contract negotiations.
In Trading Tezikov the Sabres really don’t lose anything which they cannot replace. However, for Alexei the situation isn’t quite as a bright as he may have hoped. The reason I say this is fairly simple to understand. Washington, much like the Sabres, have a lot of quality prospects playing defense. Right now, the only real competition looks like Nolan Baumgartner. However next season, the Capitals will be bringing in three high quality players: Nick Boynton of the Ottawa 67′s (a former 1997 9th overall pick), Scott Swanson, and Jean-Francios Fortin. Another player who looks sure factor into the equation is Patrick Bolieau, who was recently called up.
Washington traded veterans Joe Juneau, Tom Chorske, Dale Hunter and Craig Berube and the only body they received back was highly touted Sabres prospect Alexei Tezikov. These trades opens up four roster spots which the Caps filled by recalling forwards Matt Herr, Benoit Gratton, Trevor Halverson, and defenseman Steve Poapst. All four had spent various time split between the Portland Pirates and the Caps this season.
On March 28, Washington also called up defensemen Patrick Bolieau from Indianapolis of the IHL. All five call up have been playing since they were brought up so the Caps are now a much younger a very inexperience hockey team.
Tezikov was assigned to Cincinnati of the IHL. Not clear why they would send him to the I instead of the Portland (AHL), though maybe the presence of the heavy number of Chicago prospects in Portland may have played a part in the decision.
In other Caps news; Washington announced they have signed defenseman Dean Stork. Dean played this past year at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. A junior who recently completed his third collegiate season, helping the team to a 12-21-2 overall record.
For those who continue to believe that the Washington Capitals still have one of the best groups of prospects in all of hockey, I would suggest you take a another look. The continual injury crisis in Washington has slowly and steadily drained much of Washington’s youth, rushing many of them into the NHL. Now, if you choose to include players like Jan Bulis, Jaroslav Svejkowski , Richard Zednik and Brendan Witt as prospects, there is little doubt that the Capitals are still powerful. However, in all fairness, all four of those players have shown they do belong in the NHL and they can no longer truly be considered prospects. The current state of looks rather bleak mainly because Washington has had two sub par drafts in a row and much of their current talent pool appears to be more career minor leaguers than NHL. If I was to honestly rank the Capitals I would have to place them somewhere between 8 and 14.
Examining the players currently within the system, the Capitals do show some balance. They appear to have at least one fairly strong prospect at every position but beyond that it looks thin. The center position appears to be Washington’s strongest area though the team seems to be fairly deep on defense as well. If a few of the goalies can regain their previous forms, the Caps seem set at that position as well for years to come.
Let’s take a look at what is left in Washington’s system position by position.
Goaltending: Read more»