As we inch towards the dog days of summer, here's a look at some things that have happened on this day in franchise history.
Yesterday, we saw that July 7th was not an especially noteworthy day in Washington Capitals history. Not so, July 8th.. although that's not to say it was a happy day, either.
July 8, 1995: The Caps traded Dmitri Khristich and Byron Dafoe to the Los Angeles Kings for a first-round draft pick and a fourth round pick in the 1996 entry draft.
Looking back on that deal, it made sense on paper. Khristich averaged almost 35 goals per 82 games over the three seasons preceding the 1994-95 season, but in that abbreviated season (limited to 48 games due to a lockout), he recorded only 12 goals.
Meanwhile Dafoe was caught in the difficult situation of three well thought of goalies competing for one or two spots. Dafoe, a former second round draft pick of the Caps, had a total of ten NHL games of experience at the end of the 1994-95 season. Olaf Kolzig, a first-round pick in 1990, finished that season with a total of 24 games of NHL experience. Finally, Jim Carey, taken in the second round of the 1992 draft, joined the club mid-way through the 1994-1995 season and grabbed the starting role by the throat, going 18-6-3, 2.13, .913, with four shutouts in 28 appearances. While he struggled in the postseason (2-4, 4.19, .834), the number one job seemed to be his.
That left the club with Kolzig and Dafoe battling to be prospect-in-waiting, and the club chose Kolzig, packaging Dafoe for those first and fourth round draft picks. The pick looked even better when the Kings finished 23rd in a 26-team league, giving the Caps the fourth overall pick in the 1996 entry draft. If you're a Caps fan, you know what came next.
That 1996 draft has to be one of the worst in the modern era of hockey. Of 26 first round picks, 11 ended up playing fewer than 100 NHL games. Five played fewer than ten games, and two of them never dressed for an NHL game. Five of 241 players drafted appeared in more than 1,000 games to date. None recorded as many as 700 career points to date. It was not a great draft. Not that Caps fans can take any solace in that. For the ninth time in club history, Washington had a top-five pick. They had success to this point, having drafted the likes of Mike Gartner, Scott Stevens, Bob Carpenter, Rick Green, and Ryan Walter with top-five selections.
This time, not so much. His name, even today, causes many Caps fans to cringe... Alexandre Volchkov.
Between Volchkov and the player taken with the fourth-round pick pried loose from the Kings (Justin Davis), the Caps ended up with three games played (all by Volchkov) and no career points. Volchkov was eventually traded to the Edmonton Oilers in 2000 for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2001 entry draft. That pick was later sent to the Anaheim Ducks, along with defenseman Alexei Tezikov, for defenseman Jason Marshall, who would play a grand total of five games with the Caps before departing as a free agent for the Minnesota Wild in 2001.
July 8, 2011: The Caps traded Eric Fehr, once an 18th-overall draft pick (and for whom the Caps passed on Ryan Getzlaf), to the Winnipeg Jets for forward Danick Paquette and a fourth-round pick in the 2012 entry draft. And how did that work out? Fehr didn't exactly wow the crowds in Winnipeg, scoring just two goals in 35 games with the Jets while fighting an injury bug (a theme repeated in his career), before returning to the Caps the following season.
Meanwhile, neither Paquette nor Thomas DiPauli, the player taken with that fourth-round draft pick in 2012, have yet to appear in an NHL game (DiPauli completed his NCAA eligibility with the University of Notre Dame in 2015-16, but his future with the Caps is uncertain). Oh, and Fehr? He finished his second tour with the Caps in 2015 and went on to enjoy success somewhere else that shall not be named.
July 8, 2013: The Caps opened a box of Bic ball points and signed three free agents - Tyson Strachan, Matt Watkins, and David Leggio. Strachan, a veteran of 120 games with the St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers over a five-year career, appeared in 18 games for the Caps in the 2013-14 season (0-2-2, minus-2). Watkins would play for the Capitals, just not the Washington Capitals. After playing in 73 games with the Caps' AHL affiliate in Hershey in 2013-2014, he joined the Vienna Capitals of the Austrian Hockey League for the 2014-2015 season.
Leggio also played in Hershey in 2013-14, tending goal for 45 games, before heading off in free agency with the New York Islanders. He does have an odd footnote to his career, that coming with the Islanders' AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a game against the Springfield Falcons in November 2014.
It was a moment that inspired a rule change that would be named for Leggio, adding an automatic game misconduct penalty to the offending goalkeeper to the penalty shot (Rule 63.5, for those of you keeping score at home).
Hockey is not without its interesting moments and characters, that's for sure.