If you've been following SBN Hockey's network-wide mock draft, you know that the Caps are on the clock... which means we're on the clock for them.
Last year, we selected Julius Honka with the 13th overall pick (in reality Dallas picked him with the 14 selection). Capitals pick Jakub Vrana was selected by Tampa Bay 28th overall in last year's mock draft.
Two years ago, we selected J.T. Compher with the 23rd pick (in reality, he went to Buffalo with the 35th pick; Caps' pick Andre Burakovsky had already gone to San Jose with the 20th pick).
Three years ago, we had two picks, at 11th and 16th overall. With that 11th pick, we selected Zemgus Girgensons(Caps pick Filip Forsberg went second overall; Girgensons was selected 14th in the actual draft by Buffalo), and with the 16th pick we took Pontus Åberg, in part for that cool thing over the "A" in his name (Caps pick Tom Wilson went to New Jersey with the penultimate pick of the first round; Åberg slipped to 37th in reality, where Nashville snatched him up).
Four years ago, drafting in the 26th slot, we selected Scott Mayfield (he ended up going to the Islanders with the 34th pick in the actual draft, and the Caps, of course, traded the 26th pick to Chicago in exchange for Troy Brouwer; the Blackhawks drafted Phillip Danault with the pick).
Five years ago, also drafting 26th overall, we took Brock Nelson (he ended up going to the Isles at 30th in the real draft; Caps pick Evgeny Kuznetsov was off the board already).
This time around we're pleased to select... from Farjestad of the SHL, center Joel Eriksson Ek.
Here's his draft profile:
McKeen's (go buy their guide - it's worth it) had this to say about Joel Eriksson Ek:
The son of Clas Eriksson, a 13 year veteran in the Swedish elite league, finished the season strongly for Farjestad in the SHL, his father's youth club and hometown.. gaining valuable experience against better, older competion - posted the most points of any under 18 eligible player (34-2-4-6).. led the SuperElit junior team with 21 goals in only 25 games (25-21-11-32)... turned in a great performance at the U18 World Championships leading the Swedish team with five goals (5-5-1-6) and tying for the lead in points... a big, rangy, all-purpose player used on special teams, critical situations and key face-offs... a hard working team player with a high hockey IQ - plays with remarkable maturity for his age, always calm and in control - not overly skilled with the puck but handles it soft and smoothly, never rushing a decision or panicking... tall upright skater with decent agility must continue to progress - foot speed and strength will need to fill in more and become more coordinated - footwork seems to lose momentum coming out of a sharp 18--degree turn... stride is shorter and forced, feet spray out during accelerate, yet generates good speed due largely to his effort level and body length... a dangerous net-front operator with great hand/eye co-ordination... generates impressive velocity on his wrist-shot with an economical and sharp release.... determined coming back and diligent defensively... astute and brave-shot blocker - knows how to use body and positions himself intelligently... uses his stick effectively to block lanes and find stout positioning to make critical clears in front of the net... a project that is still developing and filling out - improvements in skating could go far to unleash his offensive potential.
ESPN's Corey Pronman has this to say about Eriksson Ek:
Eriksson played a good chunk of this season in the SHL, and also played very well in the top Swedish junior circuit. He's a very versatile player and is a low-risk type of prospect. Eriksson's hockey IQ is his best trait.
"He's so smart, always in the right place and never makes a mistake with the puck," said one scout.
I wouldn't classify him as a dominant player, but whether he's playing in front of the net on the power play, creating from the side boards, killing off penalties, checking good players, taking a key draw, or being the extra man when the team needs a goal, coaches always can rely on Eriksson. His puck skills are solid, and his skating is about average, with his straight-line speed being stronger than his edges and bursts.
So that's our pick, a defensively responsible forward who has the ability to make an impact on both ends of the ice. Eriksson Ek is different from the Capitals more recent draft choices, as Pronman put it he's a pretty "low-risk" player. It's not hard to imagine a player like Eriksson being a big part of Barry Trotz's forward corps in a year or two. Plus... you can never have too many centers.
Welcome to the organization, Joel Eriksson Ek.
Who Else Was On the Radar: The player who was at the top of our draft board, Yevgeni Svechnikov, was taken two picks before we could read(write) his name. There was serious debate about taking Denis Guryanov from Toliatti (MHL) but at least one source indicates that he recently signed an extension that will keep him in Russia for at least two more seasons and we don't have the appetite to stomach another Kuznetsov situation.