We’ve looked at the top handful-plus of prospects the Caps could take with their first-round pick; we’ve broken down the wider circle they could look to for that pick and the second round. Now to wrap up the trilogy of potential draft picks, we’ll take a look at some players in the third round and beyond, as well as some defensemen they could go after.
As of now, the Capitals have just four draft picks after the first round — a third (#80 from Arizona), a fourth (#117), a fifth (#148), and a sixth (#179). So not many many picks, but the Capitals are used to that (in fact it wouldn’t be a surprise if they package a couple picks for a single pick at some point, something else they’re prone to do).
First let’s take a look at the third round on its own, because within the first 100 picks there always tend to be some really good players available.
Dmitri Ovchinnikov, F
5’10” - 161LBS
Will Scouch said it best when describing Dmitri: he plays yeehaw hockey. This kid is all speed, high event hockey. Everything about him is fast: his skating, his hands, and most importantly his mind. He weaves in and out of avenues before dishing a no look back hand pass or rips a puck top corner. Only real flaw is his size, he’ll need to get strong to withstand North American play. He had the sixth best MHL season ever for a U18 player with players like Nikia Gusev and Nikita Kucherov right in front of him. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him fall much farther than the third round and make people scratch their head in a couple years as to why he was taken so late. He can play both center and wing. A lot of people think because of his size he’ll settle on wing but he has the brain and work ethic to stick at center.
Yevgeni Oksentyuk, RW/LW
5’8” - 163lbs
Outside of having a satisfying name to say, Oksentyuk is fun as hell to watch. His motor in unrelenting, he is all over the ice all the time. He came from a Belarus to play in North America for the first time and he didn’t miss a beat. During his first season in North America he led a pretty good team (fifth in the league) in points. That’s really good for someone going from one culture to another and playing different ice. Among D+1 players in the OHL, Oksentyuk was fourth in even strength primary points. That’s better than bigger names like Ryan Suzuki, Philip Tomasino, Yegor Afanasyev, and others. Only guys better were Connor McMichael, Nick Robertson, and Arthur Kaliyev, all considered tops of the prospect work. Yevgeni was also third in 5v5 goals. It isn’t too surprising to see those results when watching him. He has fantastic hands and vision. He doesn’t stop skating up and down the ice, not just in the offensive zone. And helps he’s a big annoyance to the other teams with his grind it and in your face style.
Brandon Coe, RW
6’3” - 185lbs
Brandon is a big boy that skates very well. He isn’t super fast, but great speed for a guy his size. He has really good hands and a top notch shot. He knows how to use his body to win puck battles, which is good so he isn’t wasting his ability. His biggest issue is consistency but he was on the worst team in the league and wasn’t surrounded with much talent. His team was significantly better once he was on the ice. His PNHLe was close to Mantha and he had great OHL percentiles. He should be much higher in the draft and will make people regret skipping on him.
Pavel Novak, F
5’9” - 165lbs
Much like Okstenyuk, Novak spent his first year in North America and led his very mediocre team team in goals and points. He drove play and his team was always much better when he got on the ice. He played in all situations and was trusted with heavy matchups. He’s a very good, agile skater, though he does not have top end speed, which is always frustrating for someone his size. He’s extremely underrated and it’s very odd how he’s ranked so low. He could stand to go into the rough areas a bit more but he has a willingness, which is a good sign. And like all smaller player he needs to get more stronger. He’s destined to have a great D+1 season.
Veeti Miettinen, RW
Jr. A AM-liiga
5’9” - 159lbs
Veeti is small package that is a shooting machine, which makes sense because he has such a lethal shot. He’s also underrated playmaker and good two way player, though it’s hard for him to to get the inside track due to his size. He led the league in points (12 more) and goals (14 more), which is unreal; it was good for seventh all time and third best for U19 players. His D-1 season he wasn’t second among all U18 players only to Teemu Selanne. Now, the issue is he was way too good for that league, the question is if he can continue that domination into college next season. It will be a very good test for him. If he can continue getting stronger and quicker on his skates he could be a high end NHL player.
Jack Finley, C
6’5” - 207lbs
Finley is a biiig boy and is still one of the youngest players in the draft, which is an interesting combo. Only Seth Jarvis has more Even-Strength Primary Assists (23) than Jack’s 21 among WHL first year NHL draft eligible forwards. He’s very raw and hasn’t shown any one elite skill (other than size) and his skating certainly needs work, but taking into account his age and size and underlying stats (80% of his points are at even strength which is very strong). He didn’t get much power play time so he could explode next season if he gets a chance at the man advantage. Take his age, combine it with his size, and raw abilities, he’s definitely worth a look and with the Capitals drafting for size lately, wouldn’t be surprised if they take him if he’s available.
And that wraps up the third round. After that teams tend to just focus on players they really like, so I’ll list some that are intriguing for one reason or another.
Xavier Simoneau, C
5’7” - 174lbs
Xavier was one of my favorite prospects last year and it’s mind boggling he wasn’t drafted. He is an elite, yes elite, playmaker. His vision and passing ability are some of the best in draft. The reason he was looked over was size and he is not a very good skater. But at some point you just have to take a chance on a guy with his offensive gifts. He probably won’t be a center at the next level but he could still be a high playmaking winger. The chances of any player third round and beyond making the NHL is low so you might as well put your eggs in an extremely gifted playmaker. He’s boom or bust. He’s either going to be a very good top six playmaking winger or not be in the NHL at all.
William Dufour, RW
6’2” - 194lbs
When watching some of Xavier, there was another player that really stuck out to me and that was Dufour. He instantly reminded me a lot of Tom Wilson. He’s a power forward that wins those board battles and gets pucks to his teammates. He’s not as fast Wilson but still good wheels for his size. He also doesn’t have elite shot or playmaking skills but still some great tools when everything is put together. Like Wilson he’s also reliable defensively and he even loves the forehand-to-back hand breakaway shot that Wilson goes to every time. Dufour went from a better team to worst team and did better on the worst team showing he just needed more minutes to prove his worth. He’s a really good top nine potential.
Yegor Sokolov, RW/LW
6’4” - 240lbs
If you were a fan of the Brett Leason pick last year you’ll love this pick. He’s another big boy that just finished his D+2 season and tore it up. He’s like Leason in terms of size and age but he has much better offensive skill. For a big man he has some very soft hands and he has a laser for a shot. The concern he’s a D+2 and when those players aren’t drafted it’s for a reason, but when you compare him to other high end CHL D+2 players he was among the best. Among all CHL D+2 players this past season he he ranked first in Even Strength Primary Points Per game, first in Primary Points Per Game, first in Shots Per Game, second in Points Per Game, and barely second in Primary Points Per 60 Minutes. That’s better than players like Akil Thomas, Liam Foudy, Cam Hillis, Ty Dellandrea, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, and others. All of those players are concern at least very good prospects. He’ll need to drop weight to gain some speed but if he can do it he has the Leason ceiling: strong middle six winger.
Pavel Gogolev, LW
6’1” - 179lbs
Govolev is basically Sokolov lite. He isn’t as big but has similar offensive talents. He has an amazing shot and overall really good vision. Also like Sokolov he needs to improve his skating if he wants to make it to the next level. The positives about players like Leason, Sokolov, and Gogolev is that they can instantly jump into the AHL or NHL if they are ready. For a team like the Capitals who are trying to win now, getting players that are already turning pro is a huge plus.
Pavel Tyutnev, C
5’9” - 185lbs
Pavel is a small player but is very strong on the puck and in corners. His skating is top end and when matched with his vision he becomes a deadly offensive threat. He loves going to and gettin the puck to the high danger areas. He certainly needs to work on his defense though. He scored 22 points in 36 MHL games, every since one of those points was primary, which is ridiculous. He was on a stacked team and played all over the place, so for him not to get that consistency at one position yet put up 22 primary points says a lot. He’s also one of the youngest players in the draft which means he could be even better. A great swing in the mid rounds.
James Hardie, LW
5’9” - 176lbs
Hardie is a pure sniper with a heavy shot in all situations. It’s honestly one one of the best shots in the draft. He was on a very meh team and led the team in goals. The main issue is consistency, though he got more consistent as the seasone went on. His first half was disastrous but finished really strong. A lot of goal scoring and skill in a small package, making him a high risk high reward pick.
As per usual lately, the Capitals are banned from selecting defensemen, at least in the early rounds. But we can’t really expect them to listen. I still won’t address any left handers, but the following would be some good right handed defensemen IF the Capitals have to go that route. Reminder that next years draft is a really strong defensive draft and the Capitals should wait until then to use good picks on the blue line.
Helge Grans, D
6’3” - 192lbs
The first thing that stands out about Grans is obviously his size. He’s a big boy that moves incredibly well for his size. His offensive instincts are extremely good. Combining his size, speed, offensive ability, while being right handed makes for a perfect defensemen. Well almost. He still makes some dumb head decisions, like really dumb ones that make you scratch your head, especially defensively. He can also be inconsistent at time. His toolbox is extraordinary but he is incredibly raw. The potential is there for a legit top pair if he can hit his ceiling.
William Villeneuve, D
6’1” - 181lbs
William is a a very mobile D with great edges. He’s not super fast but smooth enough to get out of the zone. He has a great mind, sees his players in all zones and gets passes to where it needs to go. He knows when to jump up or pinch. Loves to get up in the play. He led all CHL draft year defensemen in even strength primary points. He was the best defensemen in this draft at driving 5v5 play. He’s extremely underrated that will make team regret not taking him. He needs to get stronger but certainly has top four potential.
Topi Niemela, D
6’0” - 163lbs
Extremely mobile defensemen with offensive upside. Good with and without the puck. Earned playing time on a very good team as a 17 year old. His best asset is his hockey breain. Very smart that knows what to do with and without the puck. Could be one of those quiet very effective top 4 guys like Orlov or Fehervary.
Michael Benning, D
5’10” - 174lbs
Here’s a stat for you: both Cale Makar and Michael Benning had the same stat line their draft year in the AJHL: 75 points in 54 games. Now, Benning will not be Makar, but still an impressive stat nonetheless. The reason Makar was more impressive is because Benning relied more on the powerplay and assists. But his offensive skill is still top end proven by leading all defensemen in the AJHL by an insane 50 points. He needs to get quicker and stronger but tools there for a high end offensive blue liner, which the Capitals currently don’t have.
Eamon Powell, D
5’11” - 170lbs
Powell is an extremely intelligent player that reads every play so well. He also makes hard, accurate first passes out of his zone. He’s just overall a very reliable, high IQ defensemen that just knows what do. He’s also a really good skater, which combined with his skating makes a defensive dynamo. He probably won’t put up big numbers in NHL but has the ability to eat up minutes against top players and help get the puck up the ice, much like our very own Nick Jensen.
Alex Cotton, D
6’2” - 183lbs
Cotton is a D+1 player that made a big jump in points from DY to DY+1. He led the WHL defensemen in scoring, which is crazy when he had just 11 points in 54 games his draft year and 67 points in 63 games this past season. He’s not particularly great at one thing but good at everything. With his size and offensive game growing he looks like a potential second pair defensemen. He needs to work on his skating and gain some weight but he’s on the right track.