Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Traveshamock Draft

I'll be honest - I took a pass on geeking out on this year's draft (bad blogger, I know). Last year, besides dropping some knowledge on the top prospects' skills, I could tell you that Keaton Ellerby's favorite movie is "Blow" and that Jakub Voracek's favorite actors are Kurt Russell and Martin Lawrence. This year? Once I get past Stamkos, Filatov and a handful of defensemen, I'm pretty much spent (a by-product of the Caps not having a high pick, I suppose).

But here it is the day before the draft and it's time to cram. To help us all, I've taken the list of mock drafts from over at DC Pro Sports Reports (with one or two additions), seen who the Caps are predicted to take, and pulled some info (from on those kids. Here we go (the first two players are the projected Caps pick in three mocks, the next five names in two mocks, and the rest appear as the Caps pick in one mock apiece)...
  • Anton Gustafsson, C, Frolunda (Swe Jr) - Comparable: Jordan Staal.
    TSN: If an NHL team is convinced the son of ex-NHLer Bengt Gustafsson is healthy, he could easily go much higher in the first round than No. 30. But the Swedish centre had significant lower back issues and his health status was a primary concern of NHL teams at the Central Scouting Combine. Those concerns could cause his stock to drop radically, but teams were doing a lot of homework on him to be sure. His X-rays and MRIs will tell as much about when he's drafted as his on-ice performance.

    NHL Central Scouting: Anton is a highly skilled player with strong puckhandling skills and playmaking ability. He's a tall, strong and talented two-way center with good vision and a fine understanding of the game. He plays a mature game.
  • Colby Robak, D, Brandon (WHL) - Comparable: Joni Pitkanen.
    TSN: The Brandon Wheat King defenceman has pro size and speed and skills but hasn't put them together to the satisfaction of the scouts. As a result, he finds himself as a first-round possibility -– certainly lots of potential -- but one who could easily slip into the second round amidst concerns that he's soft and won't be able to battle at the pro level unless he finds another level.

    NHL Central Scouting: Robak is a smooth skating defenseman with the keen ability to skate the puck out of danger. He goes in to scrums, comes up with the puck and almost effortlessly skates it up ice; combine that with a shrewd ability to look up-ice, head-man the puck and then join the rush from behind.
  • Tyler Cuma, D, Ottawa (OHL) - Comparable: Steve Staios.
    The Ottawa 67 is a strong two-way defenceman with leadership ability and a willingness to compete hard at both ends of the ice.

    NHL Central Scouting: Really adept at knowing when to pass the puck out of the zone or to put the wheels on and carry the puck out of the zone. He helps the Ottawa 67's power-play from the point and is really reliable. Equally adept at the defensive game.
  • Greg Nemisz, C, Windsor (OHL) - Comparable: John LeClair.
    TSN: A big, diligent forward with an NHL-calibre shot who protects the puck well and understands the game. But he needs to pick up his skating, add a little more energy to his game. That could mean a fall into the second round, but then they were saying all the same things about Shawn Matthias a couple of years ago.

    NHL Central Scouting: Greg is a big player that goes to the net, he's not overly physical but he doesn't get knocked around either. He is good on the power-play, in the sense that he sets himself at the front of the net, he's hard to move and he bangs in a lot of rebounds from there.
  • John Carlson, D, Indiana (USHL) - Comparable: Mike Komisarek.
    TSN: A big, strong, hard-shooting, hard-skating defenceman who will be playing with the London Knights next season.

    NHL Central Scouting: He runs the power-play from the top of the umbrella and he has a very heavy shot. He's a very self-assured kid and rightfully so -- he's a boy, yet in a man's body and very physically strong. He had all the tools – size, skill, physical presence and charisma.
  • Mikhail Stefanovich, RW, Quebec (QMJHL) - Comparable: Frank Mahovolich (seriously?).
    TSN: One of the true wild cards in this draft. The Belarussian teased scouts with a 32-goal performance in his rookie QMJHL season but so much was expected from the big pivot who is maddeningly inconsistent with a work ethic that is spotty at best. When he's on, he's capable of dominating but he seems to be off more than on for most scouts. He has first-round talent but an application and execution level that is nowhere near where it needs to be.

    NHL Central Scouting: He's a big kid, 6'2" and 200 pounds. He has good overall skills, but needs to improve on his work ethic and his involvement if he's going to make it to the next level. When he is on his game, he is a good skater and has a great shot. He can really stickhandle but needs to show it more.
  • Kirill Petrov, LW, Kazan (RusDi) - Comparable: Andrei Kostitsyn.
    TSN: The Russian forward is touted as having first-round talent, but his work ethic fluctuates wildly and there is some real concern about when or if he's interested in playing in the NHL. A regular with Kazan in the Russian Super League, many scouts believe he is too comfortable, financially and otherwise, to expend a first-round pick so he could slide a long way. But if a team thought there's a realistic chance at getting him out at some point, there's no denying he's a first-round talent.

    NHL Central Scouting: Displayed excellent skating and mobility as well as a solid work ethic playing on Russia's (Under-18) top line. He displays toughness in one-on-one situations and delivers smart passes creating a lot of scoring chances. He is also very physically strong.
  • Evgeny Grachev, C, Yaroslavl (RUS2) - Comparable: Michal Handzus.
    NHL Central Scouting: Evgeny is a power forward with a good physical presence and ability to come up with the puck in traffic areas. He displays strong puck skills and the ability to make plays all over the ice, but needs to improve his acceleration and overall speed.
  • Josh Bailey, C, Windsor (OHL) - Comparable: Cory Stillman.
    TSN: Regarded as a skilled playmaker, the Windsor Spitfire centre is a good, solid two-way player who is conscientious in his effort at all times although scouts would like to see a little more grit to his game.

    NHL Central Scouting: Josh is the quarterback on the power-play, from down low, for the Windsor Spitfires. He is a good play-making centerman with the ability to feed his linemates when he needs to and shoot the puck when the play requires that.
  • Colton Teubert, D, Regina (WHL) - Comparable: Shea Weber.
    TSN: The hard-rock defenceman, who draws comparisons to Shea Weber and Adam Foote, is as competitive and feisty a player as there is in this draft. What he lacks in offensive upside, he makes up for with his ferocity and defensive prowess. He relishes the opportunity to go head-to-head with the other teams' top players. By all accounts, there is no love lost between him and Kyle Beach.

    NHL Central Scouting: Colten is a smooth skating defenseman, who can skate the puck out of trouble and can jump up the ice with the puck. Has the ability to take charge of the game.
  • Maxime Suave, C, Val d'Or (QMJHL) - Comparable: Simon Gagne.
    TSN: The son of former NHLer J.F. Sauve has good speed and good skill, especially in the puckhandling department. A streaky player, scouts would like to see more consistency from him.

    NHL Central Scouting: He is a real good skater. He was traded from Quebec to Val D'Or and he had a pretty good second half on a not very good team. Once he plays with better players he'll continue to improve, he can skate and for today's game that is the number one most important criteria. He needs to continue to work hard at getting stronger and to continue trying to improve his game to make it to the next level.
  • Zak Dalpe, C, Penticton (BCHL) - Comparable: Travis Zajac.
    TSN: A late bloomer who left his home in Ontario to play in the B.C. Jr. A League, Dalpe showed enough to merit some first-round consideration. Best quality is his shot but some think he is mis-cast as a centre and plays better as a hard-shooting winger.

    NHL Central Scouting: He has a really quick release on his shot, he is a very busy player and he plays with a lot of energy out there. He is a player that is constantly in motion. He is offensive minded, but plays well defensively too and has made huge improvements from last year – he developed out of nowhere and had a really good year in the BCHL.
There you have it - a handful of guys the Caps won't pick (and some of those names are just lazy "hey, there's a Russian name - the Caps like Russians" picks). For what it's worth, TSN has Bailey, Teubert, Cuma and Carlson all rated higher than 23rd overall and the rest lower.

So given the brief descriptions and the comparables (and any other information you've got) and assuming the Caps sit tight and make their first pick in that #23 slot, who do you hope to see them take?


JP said...

I'll start us off - from those descriptions, I'd take Carlson or Teubert.

DMG said...

So given the brief descriptions and the comparables (and any other information you've got) and assuming the Caps sit tight and make their first pick in that #23 slot, who do you hope to see them take?

I'm going to be a jerk and say whoever the best available player is - the Caps have enough talent and enough depth at each position to just take whoever the best player is.

Among the players you mentioned JP, I like Teubert and Carlson and Cuma, and I also think Michael Del Zotto is supposed to be pretty good. However, I also think the Capitals have a half dozen good prospects on the blueline, so I'm kind of hoping they draft a center or right wing, maybe Greg Nemisz, Mattias Tedenby, Gustafsson or Nicholas Deschamps

Tyler said...

I think that when you're at No. 23 you take the best-available guy. But I think the organIzational needs are: body-first D, size at C, RW, RW, RW, RW.

tg said...

Maybe I'm biased, but I'm kinda hoping for Gustafsson. (Mainly because I don't think you can have too many centers.)

I know everyone wants a big defenseman, but they wouldn't make it to the Show for a few years anyway. In 2-3 years Federov's gone, Nylander is (probably) gone, can't hurt to have more stuff in the pipeline.

And anyone else think they can package a couple of the second round picks for something better/higher?

DMG said...

I think that with Finley, Dovgan, Pokuluk and Thomas the Capitals have a good number of fairly physical defensemen in the system. None of them are sure-fire NHLers (especially Thomas), but I think the organization is strong enough there that it doesn't need to be a top priority. The position lacking in the prospect pool for the Caps is left wing, but with Ovechkin and Semin that might not be a huge issue.

Personally I think the biggest need is a physical, two-way forward. You can never have to many of those and the Caps don't really have anyone in the pipeline which fits that description.

DMG said...

And anyone else think they can package a couple of the second round picks for something better/higher?

Yes, but this is a very, very deep draft, so unless the Caps can trade up to the top six and get one of the Big Four defensemen, I think it'd be worth it to hang on to the picks they already have.

JP said...

I wouldn't be upset if the Caps hung on to those picks. For prolonged success in a salary capped league, you need to have plenty of young, cheap talent to replace the guys you lose, because you will lose guys. With a ton of picks and a moderate success rate in drafting, that shouldn't hurt.

By contrast, look at the Pens. They don't have a pick until the 4th round (if I recall correctly). They've traded away picks and prospects to win now. Without question, they are having success (and look to for the next couple of years), but further out it gets a little fuzzier. I'm not saying that's the wrong strategy to take, but it's not one this Caps team is in a position to adopt at this point.

Rorschach said...

Based on the mocks I've seen and participated in, a defensemen will probably be the best player available at 23.

DMG said...

Peerless recently posted on Pittsburgh's 2008 draft prospects.

I agree with JP - the only reason I could see moving up is to nab one of the Big Four defensemen. I'd actually like that idea quite a bit - a defense corps anchored around Alzner, Green and one of those players would be fantastic.

One thing I think would be interesting to see is whether the Capitals are the team that takes a chance on Kirill Petrov, assuming he falls to the second round. With Ovechkin, Semin, Kozlov and possibly Fedorov on the team, the Caps might be in a better position than others to induce Petrov to come to North America, and with three picks in a six-pick range it would be worth risking one if the team is confident in the other two.

JP said...

My bad for not posting that Peerless link on Pitt - it slipped my mind. Definitely worth a read - thanks for linking to it.

Tyler said...

DMG: "I think that with Finley, Dovgan, Pokuluk and Thomas the Capitals have a good number of fairly physical defensemen in the system."

I'm not sure any of those guys projects into the NHL at this point. They may in the future, but I don't know that any of them is considered a likely top-four NHL D in the next three years -- or ever.

(Unless of course the NHL begins to allow teams to skate their mascots. Because then Finley is an ALL-STAR CRUSHER, BABY!)

breed16 said...

McPhee on Gustafsson: "He wasn't very good."

We're drafting Baby Gus, it's a lock.

DMG said...


Finely and Pokulok were first rounders and Dovgan, as is my understanding, has second round talent and was nabbed by the Capitals in the seventh because they knew his birthdate was actually earlier than what most people thought (think what Florida did with Ovechkin, only it working...). I wouldn't call it likely that all three of those pan out into good NHLers but I'd bet at least one does. Plus, given that they're 20-21 I'd expect them to be NHL ready before anyone the Capitals could take late in the first round this year.

B19 said...

I'm hoping Mattias Tedenby or Micheal Del Zotto slip to #23.

Tedenby is a small, skilled, fast Swedish LW, he's got a good work ethic, the only problem is that he's 5'9.

Del Zotto has the highest offensive upside of any defenceman in the draft.

JP said...

BREAKING: The Caps have signed Osala to a 3-year entry deal.

wittcap79 said...

Evgeny Grachev. Was the #2 Euro skater heading into mid-season dropped to #9 because of the "lazy" Russian syndrome. Falling, falling, falling down the boards. The kind of sleeper pick you always look for. It's hard to imagine anyone, let alone a countrymen, not getting geared up to play with OV. And he's a center.

Sentimental pick would be Baby Gus. Bengt was my 2nd favorite Cap after Langway. But I've heard he really hasn't played against any 'elite' competition yet, so is considered rather unproven.

DMG said...

Grachev is tantalizing, but if I'm McPhee I'm worried about the "lazy" tag - first round picks in the salary cap era are too valuable to risk on a player with motivational issues.

Rumor has it that the Thrashers, Islanders and Blue Jackets are possibly willing to deal the 3rd, 5th and 6th picks. If that's true, and (again) if I'm McPhee, I'd be trying to get a deal done. As I mentioned previously a 'D' core of Green, Alzner, Morrisonn and one of those Big Four would be....well, I'd feel pretty good about the state of the Capitals defense going forward.

bill ball said...

Doubt that he'll make it to 23, but I'd like Carlson.

bradley said...

Carlson please. I'd love to get Gus and Grachev in the 2nd, but they're too much of a reach at 23. Nemisz would be a better fwd pick in the 1st, if we must.

mrsbackstromwannabe said...

I kind of like the sound of Gustafsson. He sounds like a Backstrom-esque kind of player, and if he is, Backstrom could totally center for Ovechkin, and Gustafsson for Semin.

Tyler said...

DMG: I hear ya, but have you heard Caps officials -- or anyone else -- say that those guys look NHL-ticketed? Everything I've read about Finley has been a little... muted, at best, regression-focused at worst. Ex-ECHLer Pokulok has flirted with 'bust' status. Dovgan: No idea.

bigonetimer said...

I sure do hope GMGM resists the temptation to package up those 4 high picks.

I would love to see them draft one of those top centers, but my gut tells me they're going D in the first round again.

Andi said...

OK, newbie opening her fat mouth and making more sense of this the more she reads.

Maybe it's me being a newbie, but I think it makes sense for the Caps to focus on D in the draft. While I realize that it'll probably be a few years before these guys get a lot of ice time, likely, with Huet being as up in the air as he is and Kolzig gone, Caps are hurting in goal right now. Is it possible that they'd want to stack D to try to take the edge off that lack?

JP said...

Not sure, as the Caps think they've got the goaltender of the future in the system already and that guy (whether it's Varlamov or Neuvirth) would probably beat any defenseman they draft here to the NHL.

But it's quite possible that the thought is "We've got Ovechkin and Backstrom, likely Green and Semin... if we build a stout defense behind them, we're golden." You can never have enough quality defensemen in the system, especially if your goaltending (as you allude to) gets real young, real fast.

Tyler said...

I would think that the best-case scenario for the Caps G is for Johnny to back-up Huet in 08-09, and for either Varlamov or Neuwirth to get some starts in '09-'10, for one of them to be the backup in '10-'11, and then the starter in '11-'12.

DMG said...

DMG: I hear ya, but have you heard Caps officials -- or anyone else -- say that those guys look NHL-ticketed? Everything I've read about Finley has been a little... muted, at best, regression-focused at worst. Ex-ECHLer Pokulok has flirted with 'bust' status. Dovgan: No idea.

If Finley has regressed, he's getting a lot of help from teammates: his goal totals have gone from 0 to 1 to 4 and his point total from 3 to 7 to 15 and he led the Fighting Sioux with a +24 rating this season.

I think the 'bust' tag has been somewhat unfairly applied to Pokulok, as people tend to overestimate the potential for mid-range first rounders. He's still only 22 (barely) and has a good skill set, but he's going to need to put it together and stay injury free.

As for Dovgan, I don't know much about him other than that his personal life has taken him away from hockey and he played in Russia last year.

But Dovgan is 20, Pokulok is 22 and Finley is 21. If you look at other stay-at-home types, especially big guys, they take a little while to develop: when he was 21, Chara was barely cracking the NHL lineup, Mike Komisarek wasn't an NHL regular until he was 23, and Hal Gill was 21-22 his first season. I doubt any of the Capitals prospects will be as good as Chara or even Komisarek, even if they don't reach that level they can still be good NHLers.

The Caps defenders might not be all-stars and they might not be in the NHL next season, but I don't think it's to the point where they should be written off and the role should be seen as one that needs to be immediately be addressed (especially when the team has several goods defenders who are NHL ready, a couple more who are one the cusp and has depth issues in the prospect pool at wing).

b.orr4 said...

McPhee is so laid back about this draft that I'm almost positive he's going to do something in terms of players and picks. I could see him packaging some of our quasi-second and third liners along with a pick or two to move up in the draft. He's just way too quiet these days. I'm expecting something significant to come out of this weekend.

The Peerless said...

I don't think the Pittsburgh situation provides a parallel to the Caps in this respect. They gave up a lot for a rental, and even if they re-sign Hossa, it will cost them plenty. If the Caps see a player on their short list available (let's just use Gustafsson as an example), and they can move into the lower end of the first round to get him -- using a combination of their three seconds and a player (it might take more) -- they would have a player who could (and we'd like to emphasize "could") be a relatively cheap, but talented player -- a potential bargain on their entry level deal. It's different than dealing for a rental.

That said, I'd think it would have to be one heck of a deal for that to happen

breed16 said...

I would think that the best-case scenario for the Caps G is...

Umm...I would think best case scenario is for Varlamov to be our starter and Vezina contender by next season. Your projection seems to be more of the "realistic" variety. Realism shmealism, this is a new era of Caps hockey and thus, a new era of Caps fanhood.

For a more traditional take: if a blue-chip goalie prospect like Pickard is available at 23, I don't see how you can possible pass that up, Varlamov or no Varlamov. We must have missed on dozens of goalie prospects because we mistakenly assumed Oulette was the guy. If that happens again, it's another cycle of free agent fill-ins for the rest of the Ovechkin era and the Caps will regret it.