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Mid-Day Memories: Better Late Than Never, Part I

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Where, in the first of two parts, we look at players drafted by the Caps 100th overall or later.

NHL: APR 01 Capitals at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

During this lengthy “pause” in the NHL season, we here at the Rink have taken a look back in time at some interesting, if somewhat off-beat aspects of Washington Capitals history. We started this “mid-day memories” series with a look at the only seven-point game in team history. We moved on to such topics as 30-minute men, goalies with high save volume games, and players who posted Gordie Howe Hat Tricks, among other topics.

Now, we turn our focus on draft picks. No, not the high picks on which a team looks to build its core for years to come, but the picks that are made after the TV lights are turned off. We are interested here in the draft picks that the Capitals made from the 100th overall pick onward, and who among them appeared in at least 100 games for the Caps. Think of them as players better taken late than never.

First, let us whittle the numbers down a bit. Over the course of their history, the Caps have taken 256 players – 232 skaters and 24 goaltenders – with the 100th overall or later picks in the entry or amateur drafts. Of that number, 60 – 56 skaters and four goaltenders – appeared in at least one NHL game. And of that number, 25 – 24 skaters and one goalie – appeared in at least 100 regular season NHL games to date.

The group of interest to us is the one of 15 players – 14 skaters and one goalie – who dressed for at least 100 regular season games as a Capital. Who are they? In Part I, let us take a brief look at each of those players who appeared in at least 100, but fewer than 200 games with the team, from fewest to most games played as a Capital.

Philipp Grubauer, G (112th overall pick in 2010 Entry Draft).
Record with Capitals: 101 games, 43-31-11, 2.29, .923, six shutouts.

Philipp Grubauer is the only goalie on this list. He was the ninth goaltender taken in the 2010 Entry Draft but third of the 21 goalies taken in that draft in total NHL games played (174, trailing only Frederik Andersen (369) and Petr Mrazek (263)). His .920 save percentage and 2.44 goals against average are best in his draft class overall.

Noteworthy Game: March 22, 2018. Grubauer stopped all 39 shots he faced in a 1-0 shutout of the Detroit Red Wings. Only seven times in Caps history did a goalie record a shutout when facing more shots.

Paul Cavallini, D (205th overall pick in 1984 Entry Draft)
Record with Capitals: 101 games, 7-13-20, minus-1, 120 PIMs

Paul Cavallini served two tours with the Caps. After he was drafted in 194, he had intermittent action in the 1986-1987 (six games) and 1987-1988 (24 games ) seasons, going 2-5-7, minus-4, with 74 penalty minutes. Traded to St. Louis in December 1987, he played 337 games with the Blues before making his way back to DC in 1992-1993 to play 71 games (5-8-13, plus-3, 46 penalty minutes). He was subsequently traded to Dallas, where he played the last three seasons of his career.

Noteworthy Game: October 16, 1987. Cavallini recorded his only game-winning goal as a Capital in a 6-2 win over the Hartford Whalers. It was the second consecutive game in which he scored a goal, posting his first goal as a Cap in a 6-5 loss to the Buffalo Sabres five days earlier. Odd fact… after he was traded to St. Louis, he scored his first goal with the Blues against the Caps, the only St. Louis goal in a 1-1 tie on December 20, 1987.

Chris Valentine, C (194th overall pick in 1981 Entry Draft)
Record with Capitals: 105 games, 43-52-95, minus-27, 127 PIMs

Chris Valentine enjoyed one of the more meteoric rises in Capitals history. Taken in the tenth round by the Caps in the Entry Draft in Montreal in June 1981, he scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game five months later, the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on November 22nd. He went on to post 30 goals in 60 games in his rookie season, but that success would be short-lived. He dressed for 45 games for the Caps over the next two seasons, going 13-15-28, minus-10, playing his last NHL game just 16 days after his 22nd birthday, in December 1983. He went on to play 12 seasons in Europe, with Dusseldorfer EG in Germany.

Noteworthy Game: February 27, 1982. Valentine scored four goals in a 7-1 win over the Hartford Whalers. It was the second time a rookie scored four goals for the Caps in a game. Oddly enough, the first time was the game immediately preceding this one, when Bobby Carpenter scored four goals in a 9-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on February 25th.

Christian Djoos, D (195th overall pick in 2012 Entry Draft)
Record with Capitals: 110 games, 4-20-24, plus-23, 14 PIMs

Christian Djoos spent a fair amount of time climbing the development ladder, making his NHL debut in October 2017, five years after he was drafted. He had a respectable rookie year in 2017-2018, finishing 3-11-14, plus-14, in 63 games. Unfortunately for Djoos, all of those numbers would be career highs. He was laid up with a thigh injury that cost him 24 games of the 2018-2019 season, limiting him to 45 games overall, and then he was caught up in a numbers bind (both a clogged blue line and contract considerations) in 2019-2020 that forced the club to assign him to Hershey in the AHL. He dressed for only two games with the Caps before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Daniel Sprong in February 2020.

Noteworthy Game: October 11, 2017. In his NHL debut, Djoos recorded his first career goal and first career assist in a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the first of two career two-point games for Djoos, the other coming in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on December 30, 2017 in which he also had a goal and an assist.

Wes Jarvis, C (213th overall pick in 1978 Amateur Draft)
Record with Capitals: 144 games, 21-41-62, minus-7, 56 PIMs

Wes Jarvis occupied that odd space in Caps history between their almost comically bad beginnings and their first taste of competitiveness. After he was drafted in 1978, he jumped to the big club in 1979-1980 and spent three years with the club. He was not an especially productive player on the offensive side of the puck in that era, his 11 goals and 26 points as a rookie being what would be career highs, but the 144 games he played over those three years was sixth-most on a team that was 79-117-44 overall (17th of 21 teams in points earned). He was traded to the Minnesota North Stars in August 1982 and spent the last five years of his career with the North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Noteworthy Game: December 1, 1979. With the Caps clinging to a 3-2 lead against the Quebec Nordiques on December 1, 1979, Jarvis recorded points on all four of the Caps’ goals that closed the scoring in a 7-2 win. He had three assists, all of them on Mike Gartner goals, and potted an unassisted goal of his own in what would be the first of two four-point games in his career. The other was the following February when he had a goal and three assists in a 6-2 Caps win over the Chicago Black Hawks.

Greg Theberge, D (109th overall pick in 1979 Entry Draft)
Record with Capitals: 153 games, 15-63-78, minus-19, 73 PIMs

It did not take long for the grandson of Hall of Famer Dit Clapper to go from the draft in August 1979, where he was taken in the sixth round by the Caps, to the big club. Spending a short time in Hershey with the Bears of the AHL to start the season, he made his NHL debut with the Caps in November 1979. What he was not able to do was cement a regular spot in the lineup in his five years with the Caps. He did dress for 70 games in 1982-1983, but that would be almost half his entire regular season resume (153 games) over five seasons in the NHL, all with Washington.

Noteworthy Game: February 5, 1983. Trailing by a goal late in an early-February contest with the New Jersey Devils,, Bobby Carpenter scored a power play goal to tie the game. Barely two minutes later, on another power play, Theberge scored the game-winner in a 5-4 Caps victory. It would be the only game-winning goal of his career.

Tony White, LW (161st overall pick in 1974 Amateur Draft)
Record with Capitals: 158 games, 37-28-65, minus-60, 100 PIMs

You would have to be among the more rabid, not to mention older, fans in Caps history to remember Tony White. He was taken in the tenth round of what was then a very different “amateur draft.” There were 25 rounds to that draft, the last player taken being Ron Poole, picked 247th overall by the Caps. He would be one of 36 skaters to dress for the first Capitals team in 1974-1975, appearing in five games that season. The following season he appeared in all 80 games for the Caps, and his 25 goals were second on the club to Nelson Pyatt’s 26 tallies. His career would tail off from there. His goal scoring dropped by more than half the following year, to 12 goals in 72 games, and he would be released by the club in 1977-1978 after appearing in one game. He finished his career in the NHL the next season with the Minnesota North Stars, out of the NHL at age 25.

Noteworthy Game: November 26, 1975. In a late-November contest against the Los Angeles Kings, White opened the scoring at the 20 second mark of the game. At the time, it was the fastest first goal scored by a Capital to open a game in team history. White also scored the final goal in a 7-2 decision that would be the Caps’ first win on home ice in the 1975-1976 season.

Mathieu Perreault, C (177th overall pick in 2006 Entry Draft)
Record with Capitals: 159 games, 33-37-70, plus-17, 70 PIMs

By the time the Caps got around to their sixth-round pick of the 2006 draft, they had already selected Nicklas Backstrom, Semyon Varlamov, and Michal Neuvirth, three players who would play prominent roles in the years to come for the club. Fans might have been forgiven if, when the Caps took Mathieu Perreault in the sixth round, they thought the pick would not yield much. Perreault was already a promising scorer in Canadian juniors and would go on to post two consecutive seasons with more than 110 points in the QMJHL. However, he was an undersized center whose ability to thrive among bigger, more physical players was in doubt.

It took Perreault some time just to break in with the big club, not getting his first action with the Caps until November 2009. He started his career with a flash, though, posting a pair of assists in his NHL debut against the New Jersey Devils and going 2-4-6 in his first eight NHL games. Keeping a spot in the lineup would prove to be an issue. Only once in four seasons with the Caps did he dress for more than 40 games (64 games in 2011-2012). The wisdom of limiting Perreault’s participation might have been questioned after he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in September 2013. Since the trade (he subsequently signed as a free agent with Winnipeg), he has become a reliable point producer (45 points per 82 games) while never appearing in fewer than 60 games for a full NHL season.

Noteworthy Game: December 19, 2010. The Caps fell behind in Ottawa on a pair of first period Senator goals. They came roaring back in the second period, largely behind Perreault. He got the Caps on the board just 34 seconds into the period to draw the Caps within one. After Eric Fehr tied the game less than a minute later, Perreault provided the game-winning goal on a power play, tucking in a rebound from the side of the net. It was Perreault’s first game-winning goal as a Capital and his first two-goal game on the road with the club.

Peter Andersson, D (173rd overall pick in 1980 Entry Draft)
Record with Capitals: 160 games, 9-33-42, plus-9, 77 PIMs

Peter Andersson, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, spent a couple of seasons playing in his native country after he was drafted and made the jump to the Caps in the 1983-1984 season, playing in 42 games as a rookie and posting ten points. The problem he faced after that rookie season, though, was trying to crack a blue line that had the likes of Rod Langway, Larry Murphy, Scott Stevens, and Kevin Hatcher. He did managed to dress for 57 games in his sophomore season (ten points) and then appeared in 61 games for the Caps in 1985-1986, a season in which he posted career highs in goals (six) and points (22) as a Capital. But Andersson was traded to the Quebec Nordiques late that season for a third round draft pick. He played in 12 games for the Nordiques to finish the season, after which he returned to Sweden, where he remained until the completion his pro hockey career in 1995.

Noteworthy Game: March 1, 1984. If you are going to score your first NHL goal, there are worse ways than doing it in what would be your first and only two-goal game in the NHL. And, there are worse ways than doing it in an utter laugher of a game. Such was the scene for Andersson, who contributed a pair of power play goals (out of four power play goals for the Caps in the game) in a 9-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins at Capital Centre.

These are the players who, selected at or after the 100th overall spot in the draft appeared in at least 100, but fewer than 200 games as a Capital. In part 2 of this look back, we will look at those late draft picks who dressed for at least 200 games as a Capital.