Some facts about the Washington Capitals draft class of 2019 to impress your friends and cause envy among your enemies…
- This is the first class since 2015 not to have a player born in the United States. Mitchell Gibson (Phoenixville, PA) was taken last season. Benton Maass (Elk River, MN) was taken in 2017. Chase Priskie (Pembroke Pines, FL) was taken in 2016.
- This is the smallest class (four draftees) since the 2015 class, which also had four members (Ilya Samsonov, Jonas Siegenthaler, Connor Hobbs, and Colby Williams).
- The 25th overall pick with which the Caps took Connor McMichael was the highest first selection for the club since they took Samsonov with the 22nd overall pick in 2015.
- McMichael is the first forward taken with the team’s first pick since they selected Jakub Vrana with the 13th overall pick in 2014.
- In the 18 drafts preceding this one dating back to 2001, the Capitals selected at least one goaltender in 13 drafts (15 goalies overall among 137 selections). The Caps did not take a goalie among their four picks.
- Brett Leason and Aliaksei Protas were taken from the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. The Caps are no strangers to WHL picks, having taken 32 players from the WHL out of 137 selections from 2001-2018. However, this was the first time that the Caps dipped into the Prince Albert roster for a player since they took defenseman Ross Lupaschuk in the second round (34th overall) in 1999. Leason and Protas are the fourth and fifth players taken from the Raiders in the draft history of the club. Brad Church (17th overall in 1995) and Jeff Nelson (36th overall in 1991) are the others.
- Connor McMichael is the first player drafted by the Caps from the London Knights since Justin Taylor was taken in the sixth round (180th overall) in the 2007 draft and only the second since Krys Barch was taken in the fourth round (106th overall) in 1998. John Carlson played one season as an amateur for the Knights, but he was drafted out of the USHL (Indiana Ice) in 2008.
- Thinking about the McMichael selection, drafting in the lower third of the first round has been something of a sweet spot for the Caps. Since 2004 (the Alex Ovechkin draft), the Caps have taken 11 players in the 21-30 space. That number includes: Jeff Schultz (27th in 2004), Mike Green (29th in 2004), Semyon Varlamov (23rd in 2006), John Carlson (27th in 2008), Marcus Johansson (24th in 2009), Evgeny Kuznetsov (26th in 2010), Andre Burakovsky (23rd in 2013), and Ilya Samsonov (22nd in 2015). Samsonov and Lucas Johansen (28th in 2016) have yet to make their NHL debuts, but the only other player out of that group not to appear in at least one NHL game was Anton Gustafsson (21st overall in 2008). Seven of the eight players to appear in the NHL have dressed for at least 300 games (Joe Finley (27th in 2005) dressed for 21 NHL games).
- Whether intentional or not, the Caps drafted for what NBA types call “length.” There were 23 skaters taken who are 6’4” or taller, and the Caps selected three of them – Aliaksei Protas, Brett Leason, and Martin Hugo Has.
- As for Martin Hugo Has, if you are thinking that his selection as the 153rd overall pick means he has an uphill climb to make it to the NHL, you are right. Since the NHL went to a seven-round draft in 2005, the Caps took 30 players through last summer’s draft at 153rd overall or lower. Of that group, eight have dressed for at least one NHL game. One of them – Mathieu Perreault (177th overall in 2006) has played in 578 regular season games, and counting. Two others – Travis Boyd (177th overall in 2011) and Christian Djoos (195th overall in 2012) skate for the Capitals of today. Even Tyler Lewington (204th overall in 2013) and Riley Barber (167th overall in 2012) have gotten into the Caps’ lineup for a few games over the last year or two. And, if you go back further in time, before the seven-round draft, you will find such familiar names as Richard Zednik (249th overall in 1994), John Oduya (221st overall in 2001), Ken Klee (177th overall in 1990), Andrew Brunette (174th overall in 1993)…oh, and a fellow named Peter Bondra (156th overall in 1990)… drafted by the Caps who have dressed for a significant number of NHL games.
It’s a hard road for any draftee, wherever he might be selected, but not an impossible one to travel. Best of luck to all of the draftees on the journey on which they are about to embark.