Photo: After playing the past three seasons in Finland, defenseman Sami Vatanen made his way to North America and currently plays for the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Below is the middle section Hockey’s Future’s NHL Team Rankings. The teams are ranked in terms of the quality of their overall prospect pool as voted on by the staff of Hockey's Future. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice a year, with the second scheduled to be published in the Spring.
Photo: Chandler Stephenson is one of several Washington Capitals prospects who are poised for a breakout season in 2012-13. (Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
As the 2012-13 season gets under way, the Washington Capitals have many prospects hoping to take their game to the next level. With the exception of Braden Holtby and Dmitri Orlov, most young players with the Capitals have not been affected by the NHL lockout. The Capitals system has a few blue chip prospects mixed in with a larger group of lower end prospects, who have opportunities to step up and prove themselves as true NHL prospects. Players like Connor Carrick, Garrett Mitchell, and Caleb Herbert are not as well known as players like Holtby, Yevgeni Kuznetsov, and Filip Forsberg, but all are worth keeping an eye on this season.
Photo: The Washington Capitals organization is hoping goaltender Braden Holtby will be able to replicate his strong 2012 playoff performance over the span of an entire regular season. (Will Schneekloth/Icon SMI)
The Washington Capitals used the 2012 NHL draft as an opportunity to restock their prospect pool by adding 10 new players. Among the new additions are a mix of players who should have an impact in the next couple years, along with some longer term projects.
Photo: Regarded as a potential top five pick, forward Filip Forsberg slid down to the 11th spot in the draft, where the Washington Capitals were more than happy to select him. (Ian Altenbaugh/HF)
After just one pick in the first two rounds of the previous two drafts, the 2012 NHL Draft was a chance for the Washington Capitals to restock their prospect cupboards. The Capitals entered the draft with a total of 11 picks, and ended up keeping 10 of them. Though General Manager George McPhee dealt the club's second round selection to the Dallas Stars, packaging it with Cody Eakin, the return – Mike Ribeiro – was a significant one.
Photo: The Washington Capitals went the trade route in the 2011 NHL Draft, sending their first round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for winger Troy Brouwer. (Mark Goldman/Icon SMI)
After nearly advancing to the Eastern Conference finals, the revitalized Washington Capitals now turn their attention to the off-season. After having just four picks in last year's draft, the club has stockpiled 11 picks for this June's draft, including the 11th overall pick, which they acquired from the Colorado Avalanche for Semyon Varlamov, and their own 16th overall pick.