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»
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.