We’ve talked about who the Caps could draft... but based on what Brian MacLellan and his team have done in the past, those may all be pipe dreams. So let’s take a look at who the Caps probably will draft.
The players below are players that will likely be available around pick #20, and all fall into an archetype that the Caps have often turned to: big bodies with with some skill.
Rutger McGroarty, C/W
Consolidated Rankings: 23
Of all the players on this list, Rutger is probably the only one I probably wouldn’t mind if Caps took at 20. He is a true power forward with great shooting ability: one of the best wristers and one times in the draft. It’s hard to say no to that combination of size, physicality, shot, and his above average playmaking skills. His weakness is his skating, sometimes it looks like he has cement in his skates. With bigger guys, even if they don’t have a great initial couple steps (like Protas and Brett Leason) they at least have good speed once they get going; Rutger doesn’t have that. But he has a great brain that knows where he needs to be, and if you can’t skate well, at least you know where to be before anyone else. There’s high potential here, like a Jason Robertson, who’s also a big boy that fell in the draft due to his skating... he just scored 79 points in 74 games as a 22 year old on a offensively weak Dallas Stars team. That could maybe be a lesson to teams who let Rutger fall due to skating.
Owen Pickering, LHD
Consolidated Rankings: 28
If there’s a player that screams Capitals, it’s a big WHL left handed defensemen, and that’s what Pickering is. What’s nice about Pickering, with his size, is his skating is a strong suit. He’s still thin on the bone but even as he gains weight his skating should still be strong. Big, lengthy defensemen that can skate well are always hard to pass on.
Pickering’s strength lies mainly in the defensive zone and stifling the neutral zone to make sure his team can get up the ice and into the offensive work. Owen doesn’t have the highest offensive upside, but it’s believed that there’s still more for him to grow into. He makes smart reads and passes in all zones, reminds me a bit of Cap last summer second round pick in Vincent Iorio. They won’t blow you away offensively but you can still rely on them to do the right thing that limits goals against and ups goals for.
Jimmy Snuggerud, C/W
Consolidated Rankings: 24
Snuggerud is a strong, two-way playing center with high end playmaking skills. It’s a bonus that he has great size that he will only grow into. HIs brain is high end that helps him at both ends of the ice. What’s holding him back is his skating and consistency. If he was better at both he’d be top 10 selection most likely. Many believe he’s due for an explosion next season because he was always skating behind all the top talent in the US programs he played in (Logan Cooley, Frank Nazar, Isaac Howard, Rutger McGroaty). That’s what happened to Connor McMichael - he played on the third line in his draft year, and the next season he blew up because he got that top-line time he deserved. A plus here is Snuggerud is beloved by his teammates and is known for his hard work.
Lian Bichsel, LHD
Consolidated Rankings: 28
Liam is a brute, and I’m saying that in the most complimentary manner. He just loves to destroy opponents with his hulkish frame. Every player fears for their lives when he hits the ice. Usually players his size are too slow to scare everyone but for a guy his size he can move very well. Defense is his game and not much else, you can’t rely on him for many points or do anything creative in the offensive zone but that’s not why you draft him. Think of Erik Cernak with the Tampa Bay, who played top four minutes, even top pair minutes the last three seasons winning two Cups and getting to game six of the Finals this season. Players like him have a lot of use. He’s not a guy I would spend the 20th pick on but he’s someone you want on your team.
Nathan Gaucher, C
Consolidated Rankings: 25
If you wanted a mini Tom Wilson, then Gaucher is your player. There are other big forwards on this list and the list from yesterday, but none of have both the size and skating ability that Gaucher has (and is the combo that makes Wilson so affective). Like Wilson, Nathan also has some good play-making ability which, when added to his speed and size, frees up a lot of space on the ice.
He’s also very reliable and can be trusted at both ends of the ice. He won’t drive his own line but will do the dirty work to help a skilled line, again, like Wilson. What scares me is he isn’t very consistent with his offense, and hasn’t even hit a point per game in the QMJHL in his three years which is very concerning. If he can find consistency, there’s a chance he becomes a top-six power forward, but as of now he’s looking like a good third-liner at the NHL level - which is fine, but not for a 20th over all pick.
People to thank (and support if you want more prospect information: