Capitals Return Two Picks to the Draft

By Seth Keggins

The June 1st deadline has come and gone for unsigned 2001 draftees. The Washington Capitals let two picks go back into the draft, two-time WJC Team Canada defenseman Nathan Paetsch (selected in the 2nd round, 58th overall) and winger Jeff Lucky (selected in the 4th round, 125th overall).

Capitals General Manager George McPhee had made it public knowledge before the end of this season that he was still contemplating the signing of defenseman Nathan Paetsch. The question was answered for Paetsch on Sunday.

“We didn’t even really have any talks,” Paetsch said. “They have a lot of young D prospects. It just didn’t work out at this time.”

With Eminger, Yonkman, Boumedienne, Fortin, and Cutta all waiting in the wings, George McPhee simply could not find room to sign Nathan to a contract. Though some would question this move, the real question is why the Capitals did not at least make a better attempt to salvage a top 60 pick.

Some speculate that the pass on Paetsch may come back to haunt the Capitals, just as Nick Boynton did. But the two players are not comparable. Boynton was a top-notch defender in the OHL who was not once–but twice selected in the 1st round. He’s an excellent skater and is both strong and physical. If you missed Paetsch at previous Caps training camps, there is a reason you missed him. Paetsch is not flashy and struggles in some of the physical and defensive aspects of the game. He can quarterback the power play and add to the offensive aspect of the game, but no more than current prospects Eminger, Boumedienne, and Cutta.

Jeff Lucky, on the other hand, was poised to have a breakout season with his WHL squad. Lucky is an excellent skater, with exceptional quickness and agility, and it makes sense that his game is based around speed. He is a strong puck handler and passer, with the ability to make things happen. However, injuries have plagued him over the last two seasons, which may have forced George McPhee’s hand on not offering him a contract.

Both players will re-enter the upcoming 2003 draft later this month.