Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How did the players get here?

9901b9bf0cdf4bad912a667f90138684-getty-98412100rr074_2010_nhl_drafThe latest Caps 1st round pick, Evgeny Kuznetsov, at the 2010 NHL Draft in LA. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In a prior post, I made my guesses for who I though would be on the Caps opening night roster. I though, seeing how GMGM and Ted Leonsis are preaching the growth from within, it would be interesting to see how all those players actually ended up in the Washington Capitals organization. Were they drafted by the team, were they acquired as prospects, were they traded for, or were the signed as UFAs?

First, here’s a quick review of my opening night roster predictions (and please do check out the original post).

Alexander Ovechkin
Nicklas Backstrom
Mike Knuble
Alexander Semin
Marcus Johansson
Brooks Laich
Eric Fehr
Mathieu Perreault
Tomas Fleischmann
Jason Chimera
Dave Steckel
Matt Bradley
Andrew Gordon
Boyd Gordon
Mike Green
Jeff Schultz
John Carlson
Karl Alzner
Tom Poti
Tyler Sloan
John Erskine
Semyon Varlamov
Michal Neuvirth


Much of the opening night roster consists of players that have been drafted by the Washington Capitals. In fact, this comprises a vast majority. Take a look.

Player Age Overall Draft Pick, Year
Alex Ovechkin 24 1st overall, 2004
Nicklas Backstrom 22 4th overall, 2006
Alex Semin 26 13th overall, 2002
Marcus Johansson 19 24th overall, 2009
Eric Fehr 24 18th overall, 2003
Mathieu Perreault 22 177th overall, 2006
Andrew Gordon 24 197th overall, 2004
Boyd Gordon 26 17th overall, 2002
Mike Green 24 29th overall, 2004
Jeff Schultz 24 27th overall, 2004
John Carlson 20 27th overall, 2008
Karl Alzner 21 5th overall, 2007
Semyon Varlamov 22 23rd overall, 2006
Michal Neuvirth 22 34th overall, 2006

In total, 14 of the players I think will be on the roster come opening night have been drafted by the Washington Capitals, all since 2002. Out of those 14, 11 are 1st round picks (!), along with 1 2nd rounder, 1 5th rounder, and 1 6th rounder. Not bad. The only 1st round picks the Caps have had since 2002 that aren’t on this roster are Steve Eminger (12th overall, 2002, currently with the NY Rangers), Sasha Pokulok (14th overall, 2005, currently in the ECHL), Joe Finley (27th overall, 2005, looking to crack the Hershey Bears roster after playing in college and having some injury issues), Anton Gustafsson (21st overall, 2008, played in Sweden last season and will likely play in Hershey this season), and 2010 1st round pick Evgeny Kuznetsov. Finley and Gustafsson may very well play with the Caps some day, and Kuznetsov will almost certainly as well.


Most of the young players who weren’t drafted by the Capitals (i.e. Fleischmann & Laich) have been acquired as prospects, mainly during the fire-sale period prior to the drafting of Ovechkin.

Player Age Trade Info
Brooks Laich 27 Traded from Ottawa Senators for Peter Bondra in 2004
Tomas Fleischmann 26 Traded from Detroit Red Wings for Robert Lang in 2004


Almost all of the remaining players, with the exception of Jason Chimera, were signed as free agents.

Player Age Acquired in
Jason Chimera 31 Traded from Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009
Matt Bradley 32 Signed as UFA
Dave Steckel 28 Signed as UFA
Mike Knuble 38 Signed as UFA
Tom Poti 33 Signed as UFA
John Erskine 30 Signed as UFA
Tyler Sloan 29 Signed as UFA


Looking at all this, GMGM has obviously been very good at developing draft picks and acquired prospects into full NHL players. None of the players on my opening night roster that have been signed as free agents, with the exception of Mike Knuble, will likely ever play higher than the 3rd-4th forward line of 2nd-3rd defensive pairing. The ability to have almost an entire NHL roster of players that have been developed by the organization is, in my opinion, impressive. Well done.


  1. Big deal. They're mainly a collection of wimps. We're a joke in the league now.Fleishman for Lang. Great move. Lang lead the league in scoring when we dumped him. The guy also had hardware we don't have.

  2. The Capitals during that era didn't have much in terms of playoff success (less than the current Caps even), so trading Lang was just part of the plan to rebuild the team. Lang's trade, in addition to getting Fleischmann, got the pick that ended up being Mike Green and helped the Caps to win the draft lottery to pick Alex Ovechkin.

    And I wouldn't say the Caps are the joke of the league now. The playoff loss was unfortunate but Montreal was better than most people expected and they had a hot goalie. Also, historically a lot of other franchises have had playoff failures before success.

  3. "That playoff loss". You folks are new. We've had decades of poor playoff performances. Alan May flat out says it on TV interviews that many of his teammates didn't play their hardest when we had the Pens down 3-1 years ago. We lost, and the Pens won the Cup. May says that he doesn't speak to these Caps at reunions. He's now refering to the 6 passengers that Bruce mentioned. GMGM put 6 guys on this team that actually didn't play play off hockey against Montreal. I guess they were looking forward to their complete destruction in the next round by a franchise that always plays playoff hockey: Philly. That "hot goalie" wasn't even retained by the club. The always playoff ready Flyers desstroyed Halak, and the team traded his rights. Lastly, Mike Green has been a real stud in the playoffs. The guy really makes me think of Stevens, Langway and Tinordi when he plays.