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Future Watch – Washington Capitals: Rock the Blueline

The defending champs’ system skews toward defensemen. Don’t fret. It was done with an eye on offense.

C- / 29th overall

Most people think offense when they think of the Capitals, but the future in Washington is built from the net out. The Caps have a projected high-end starting goalie and a number of defensive prospects with decent NHL potential. Though their draft philosophy is to pick the best player available, the Capitals have not selected a forward in the first round since 2014. As a result, the prospect pool has little high-end talent up front. Washington is very cognizant of the speed of the game and has put a premium on smart, mobile players who can think and react as quickly as they can skate. Its prospect list is loaded with D-men meeting those criteria.

WSH_Trend

1. Ilya Samsonov (29th overall)
G, 22, 6-2, 205 – Hershey (AHL)
15–12–1, 2.78, .893
2015 draft, 22nd overall
Samsonov’s stats are not great, but he has been dominant since back-to-back shutouts in January. He is difficult to beat down low but is still adjusting to the smaller North American ice and can be slow to react to quick transitions and passing plays. His athleticism makes up for that. “For a guy of his size, his ability to get around the net and side to side and make huge recoveries…it’s impressive,” said Hershey coach Spencer Carbery. “He is extremely quick and covers a ton of area.”
FW18| No. 1 - NHL | 2020-21

2. Alexander Alexeyev (53rd overall)
D, 19, 6-4, 200 – Red Deer (WHL)
48–10–33–43–34
2018 draft, 31st overall
The Caps believe they have a mobile top-pair D-man, but two injuries this season have raised concerns over durability. “He’s very good on the power play, patient with the puck, good vision, good poise, but he also has that size, and he’s got a good stick,” said Caps assistant GM Ross Mahoney. Alexeyev also has more maturity than a typical 19-year-old. He refused to take a picture with the Cup at development camp. “I should deserve my Stanley Cup,” he said. “Then I can take pictures.”
FW18| n/a - NHL | 2020-21

3. Martin Fehervary (90th overall)
D, 19, 6-2, – HV71 (Swe.)
41–1–5–6–8
2018 draft, 46th overall
Fehervary can cover opponents closely and use his body and stick to break up plays. “He’s smart, can skate and competes, but he’s a really high-character guy,” Mahoney said. “I’ve never seen him take a shift off.“ Fehervary was thought to be primarily a defensive player, but he showed in the world juniors that he has offensive upside with five points in five games. The Caps see Fehervary as a future leader who can be a top-four shutdown player with some room to grow offensively.
FW18| n/a - NHL | 2021-22

4. Lucas Johansen (98th overall)
D, 21, 6-2, 182 – Hershey (AHL)
29–1–10–11–18
2016 draft, 28th overall
The skilled puck-mover has made bulking up a focus since he was drafted. Until that’s done, handling the physical play along the boards or down low remains a concern. Johansen has shown improvement in that area and was playing a shutdown role in Hershey. But an upper-body injury has kept him sidelined. There’s still excitement over his potential as a top-four D-man. “He can move the puck well, and he’s a good skater,” Mahoney said. “Good speed. He’s got a good pivot, good lateral movement.”
FW18| No. 3 - NHL | 2020-21

5. Jonas Siegenthaler
D, 21, 6-3, 206 – Hershey (AHL)
25–2–3–5–30
2015 draft, 57th overall
In Siegenthaler, the Caps have a physical defenseman who possesses good size and mobility. He is never going to light up the scoresheet, but that’s not what why he was drafted. Early concerns about his conditioning have dissipated. “He really committed himself to his off-ice training a couple years ago and dropped a significant amount of weight,” Mahoney said. “Dropping that weight has really helped his foot speed.” The Caps see him as a second-pair defenseman who can play a shutdown role.
FW18| No. 2 - NHL | 2019-20

6. Kody Clark
RW, 19, 6-2, 185 – Ottawa (OHL)
53–16–26–42–89
2018 draft, 47th overall
Talented winger, son of Wendel, looking to add a physical edge to his game.

7. Shane Gersich
C, 22, 5-11, 174 – Hershey (AHL)
48–6–13–19–30
2014 draft, 134th overall
Nephew of Brotens has tremendous speed. Has upside as a possible bottom-sixer.

8. Connor Hobbs
D, 22, 6-1, 200 – Hershey (AHL)
44–3–15–18–60
2015 draft, 143rd overall
A bomb of a shot and has some snarl, but still sharpening his defensive skills.

9. Tobias Geisser
D, 20, 6-4, 201 – Hershey (AHL)
32–0–1–1–6
2017 draft, 120th overall
AHL rookie has tremendous mobility and size. Still learning how to play physically.

10. Garrett Pilon
C, 20, 5-11, 188 – Hershey (AHL)
58–6–18–24–6
2016 draft, 87th overall
Skilled playmaker adjusting to the speed, physicality of pro hockey in first AHL year.

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