The Capitals have more questions than answers heading into their offseason.
Peter Laviolette steps in to replace underperforming coach Todd Reirden, preparing the Capitals for what might become the strangest NHL season yet, with no start date in sight and still plenty of unknowns about free agency and the offseason as a whole.
The one function with some answers is the draft, set to take place Oct. 6 and 7, just days before free agency opens. The Capitals have the 25th overall selection, then skip the second round before picking again in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds.
A year ago, the Caps picked in the same slot, at No. 25, and ended up with forward Connor McMichael, who will likely make the leap to the NHL next season. Their organizational offensive depth wanes from there, and with a forward-heavy draft class near the top, that’s what they’re likely to target once more. Washington also has some defensive needs to fill, but without a second round pick, the team will likely select a forward in the first round.
According to the Athletic, the Capitals ranked last in the league in prospect depth, so this draft could be vital for jumpstarting the organization from the ground up.
Here are some names to keep an eye on when No. 25 is on the clock:
Tyson Foerster: A lot of draft projections have Foerster in the upper second round, but if the Capitals decide to make a push for a bona fide scorer and other guys they like are gone, Foerster is a solid choice. He’s a bit one dimensional, but that dimension is scoring. The 6-foot-1 winger added 80 points in 62 games for the Barrie Colts this season and was named MVP of the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects Game.
Rodion Amirov: Amirov is all over the board. He could be gone before the 15th selection, or he could drop into the late 20s. If he does drop, the Capitals should be right there to scoop him up. The Russian left winger dominated in juniors, but struggled after the leap to the Kontinental Hockey League, which might lower his stock. That would be good news for the Caps.
Noel Gunler: A right winger who might still be around when the Caps pick, he’s one of the most common projections for this spot. At 6-foot-1, the Luleå HF winger has some size. He broke out last season with 46 points in 31 games. At 18 years old, this was Gunler’s first full season with a senior team in the Swedish Hockey League.
Jacob Perreault: There’s a good chance Perrault is gone by the time the Capitals pick, but if they want to trade up or he’s still there by the time No. 25 rolls around, he’d be a perfect fit. He showed he can score, adding 55 points in 62 games despite playing for a struggling Sarnia team in the Ontario Hockey League, and the Capitals desperately need to revamp their offensive prospect depth.
Martin Chromiak: The Slovakian winger has slowly been climbing up draft boards. After trudging along in a men’s league, the No. 2 overall pick in the CHL Import Draft made an immediate impact with 33 points in 28 games with Kingston of the OHL. Chromiak shoots right, has some size at 6 feet tall and 187 lbs, and can put the puck in the net.
Jan Myšák: With 60 pro games under his belt before he even turned 18, Myšák has some star potential. He already knows he can play with older, bigger players, and played well with Hamilton of the OHL in the North American style of the game. Like many other options for the Capitals, Myšák is a sniper with a quick release and powerful shot.
Mavrik Bourque: Bourque tallied 25 goals a year ago with the Shawinigan Cataractes in Quebec before recording a whopping 71 points this season before the pause. He’s been projected to land with the Capitals in a few mock drafts as a right-handed shot with some power behind it, despite being more undersized at 5-foot-10.