Thursday, December 07, 2006

Scott Stevens: The Most Effective Draft Choice In Caps History?

Eric Duhatschek has a great post up over at the Globe and Mail posing the question "What was the single most effective draft choice in NHL history?" He asserts that "it was the Atlanta Flames’ decision to select Kent Nilsson in the fourth round, 64th overall, in the 1976 entry draft." Why? Basically because Nilsson was a highly-effective player (in the regular season) who was eventually traded for the picks that became Joe Nieuwendyk and Stephane Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!. Nieuwendyk, in turn, was later traded for a young Jarome Iginla. Now that's getting some mileage out of a single pick.

The question got me to thinking about who was the single most effective pick in Capitals history. Off the top of my head, I'd have to say it was Scott Stevens, selected in the first round, fifth overall in 1982. Stevens' arrival in D.C. helped to usher in the greatest era of Capitals hockey to date (zip it), as the Caps didn't miss the playoffs once in Stevens' time in D.C. and three times topped 100 points in the standings. Stevens averaged .71 points per game for the Caps and is still second on the team in career points by a defenseman (Calle Johansson is first).

Whether or not St. Louis's offer to then-restricted free agent Stevens should have been matched is open to debate, but it was not matched and the Caps received five picks as compensation in return. Two of those picks - Sergei Gonchar and Brendan Witt - became mainstays on the Caps' blueline for nearly a decade, and were instrumental in the team's Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1998. Another - Miika Elomo - was traded along with a fourth round pick to Calgary for the second round pick that became 20-goal-scoring winger Matt Pettinger.

Gonchar was traded to Boston in the great player dump of '03 and in return the Caps received Shaone Morrisonn (who is arguably their steadiest defenseman right now) and first and second round picks in 2004 that have turned into prospects Jeff Schultz and Michael Yunkov.

Witt was traded to Nashville at last year's trade deadline for the Caps' current second-line center, Kris Beech, and the first round pick last summer that became top goaltending prospect Semen Varlamov.

There's still a lot of upside to be had from that initial pick, and there is no doubt that Scott Stevens is the gift that keeps on giving for the Caps.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

1) Interesting/unique way to look at a particular draft pick/asset. kinda like playing the 6 degrees of separation or that Kevin Bacon movie trivia game. Connect the dots indeed. LOL

Anonymous said...

Imagine what happens when we trade Shoane Morrisonn a few years from now for a pick that becomes Wayne Gretzkey Jr.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Kris Beech counts since he was originally a Caps draft pick. A pick that, in part, turned into Jaromir Jagr, which isn't very productive at all.

The Peerless said...

Beech might show up as part of the best and "worst." If he was the centerpiece of the trade for Jagr (as a #7 overall pick in 1999, the highest pick among the prospects dealt for Jagr), then if one does all the puts and takes, Beech (and Michal Sivek, and Russ Lupaschuk), plus $4.9 million (the cash to Pittsburgh in the Jagr deal), plus the $18 or so million in Jagr contract liability were had for -- drum roll, please . . .

A year of memorable play from Frantisek Kucera.

JP said...

But... the silver lining there is that Jagr was so craptastic that the Caps were the third worst team in hockey, allowing them a shot at winning the 2004 draft lottery, which they did, and they then selected that Russian kid.

So basically without Kris Beech, the Caps might not have AO. A stretch? Of course.

Vadim Sharifijanov said...

it's true, it's amazing that the caps are still reaping the benefits of a player drafted almost twenty-five years ago. but i think about how much more stevens could have yielded if the caps hadn't drafted nolan baumgartner, alexander volchkov, alexander kharlamov, trevor halverston, brad church, elomo, and all the other stiffs they took in the 90's when they had two first round picks every year.

Anonymous said...

The Caps had two first round picks four times in the '90s - hardly every year. And sure, there were some busts there, but there were good picks too.

The Falconer said...

I'm still waiting for Brad Church and Pat Peake to make an impact as I was prosmised back in 1995 when I had tickets.