Sunday, June 24, 2012

From the Draft: Rounds 2-7

It's a shame what takes place here the rest of the season...

The NHL Draft is divided into two days. Day one consists solely of the first round, largely due to the additional time needed for trades, negotiations, constant adjustments of priorities based on remaining players, and the general pomp and circumstance that surrounds the entire event. In a normal year, this lasts three to four hours, 2012 being no exception. The second day comprises the remaining six rounds, where there is no parading around, most of the big trades are done, and teams have finalized their priorities and draft rankings accordingly.
Some of these look familiar. I wasn't able
to get near the big one that isn't so familiar.

GMs don't even bother to get up from their tables at this point. In a normal year, this lasts four to five hours: a bit longer than the first round solely because there are 180 more picks and it is expected that the GMs and scouts will deliberate for more than eight seconds before making a pick. This year's second through seventh rounds were scheduled to take place from 10am unil 3pm. By 1pm, most people were done shopping at the Consol Energy Center gift shop and trying to figure out what the hell just happened and why did they pay fifteen dollars to park next to a demolition zone (R.I.P. Mellon Arena). There was barely time to blink before picks were announced, and when a team took more than thirty seconds to make a decision, we just assumed a trade was in the works. It was nuts, and allegations of collusion were being thrown around. OK, I was the only one, but come on. *Almost* three hours? Shenanigans.

"Columbus, you're on the clock!" "Nash: YEAH, HOWSON!"
Luckily, the Caps were happy to take part, using all eight of their remaining picks, having traded away only their/Boston's/Colorado's second round pick to Dallas just last night. McPhee seems to have woken up from a haze he was in the past couple years, because he continued to address specific
organizational needs rather than...well, whatever the heck he has been doing since 2009, if not earlier. Below is a brief recap of the players drafted, with minimal info. I am not scout, and most of these guys will not see significant, if any, NHL time. Many of them will spend time in Hershey, though, and overall the consensus is that McPhee did pretty well. If you already know the basics because you have read the other 143 blogs out there going into far more detail, please, enjoy the pictures and leave some comments about how you think McPhee did and how you feel about the future of the organization compared to last week.

  1. Third Round: With their first
    "Seriously, are they still booing us? We're so in their heads."
    pick of the day, and 77th overall, the Caps went with Chandler Stephenson, a 5' 11" 190lb forward that can play center and wing. He describes himself as "an offensive forward...trying to change to a two-way forward [and] fix the defensive part of my game." His name was a no-show in the draft preview booklet handed to all in attendance,so there was a bit of head scratching by people like me who don't know much about anyone in juniors. By many accounts Stephenson is a capable player with future NHL potential. Still probably picked a little high, though.

  2. Fourth Round, pt. 1: The Caps had two fourth round picks, having received one from Winnipeg last summer in exchange for Eric Fehr (see my post from then for my feelings on that), and with the Jets' pick (#100 overall), McPhee opted for center Thomas Di Pauli. An 18 year-old two-way forward, he clocks in at 5' 11" and 188lbs. Much of the chatter surrounding Di Pauli was focused on his backstory, but more importantly his attitude and work ethic got high praise. With the right opportunities, natural skills, and coaching, that can translate to a future roster spot. It's hard not to root for a kid like that. If he does make the lineup, expect even more Pauly D references in the locker room. Mike Green will lose his mind.

    Malcolm Subban signing autographs for a bunch of
    people who were booing him only 18 hours earlier.
  3. Fourth Round, pt. 2: The Capitals own fourth rounder was number 107, where they added right winger Austin Wuthrich. The 6' 1" forward weighed in at 190lbs., and was also part of the U.S. national team development program, a growing theme among the day's picks. He and Di Pauli were teammates on the developmental squad, will play together at Notre Dame, and both heard their names announced by Washington's own GMGM. He got some good pixels on the twitters, and was the fourth forward in a row selected to play in DC's system.

  4. Fifth Round: At #137, the Caps finally got the memo and drafted a defenseman: 5' 11" Connor Carrick, weighing in at 185lbs, described as a mobile defenseman and strong skater with good instincts as a puck-mover. By this point in the draft, realistic expectations of making the NHL have pretty much tailed off, with only the exceptional proving people wrong. It might be just the nature of the talk surrounding the draft, and prognosticators wanting to focus on the good, but once again, there was a lot of solid chatter about McPhee's pick.

  5. Sixth Round: Right winger Riler Barber was the 167th overall selection. Yet another 5' 11" player, he is a liiittle heavier at 194, and kept pace with the trend of being a pleasing pick.

  6. Seventh Round, Episode IV: This one came courtesy of Calgary, part of an oooold trade way back in 2009. This pick was once called "future considerations," and those considerations were obtained for the possible services of Keith Seabrook (he plays for the Panthers' AHL team now). The 195th pick was used on Swedish defenseman Christian Djoos (that's Juice to you). He has a good bit of filling out to do, weighing a mere 158 while being as tall as pretty much everyone else picked. If you don't know what the height is... well I don't blame you for not really reading this far down.

    General Admission. Shame I couldn't get Admiral Admission seats.
  7. Seventh Round, Episode V: At #197 Washington was apparently still reading the "get defensemen" memo from the previous night, going with another blueliner. Unlike practically everyone else, Jaynen Rissling is what we call 'round here a "big-un." At 6' 4" and 223lbs., he is inexplicably described as "more of a physical player.” A big, physical defenseman. Maybe he should train Jeff Schultz a little bit.

  8. Seventh Round, Episode VI: Finally, at number 203, the pick acquired from host team Pittsburgh in exchange for the rights to Vokoun, Washington selected their first Russian,
    Honestly, it felt like they were trying to make ice again.
    I don't blame them for wanting to get out early.
    goaltender Sergei Kostenko. He followed the rules like most of the other kids, sized up at 5' 11" and 187lbs. He also provided one amusingly awesome story. When you don't really expect to go much higher than the fifth round, and you live on the opposite side of Earth, you tend not to make the trip to have a jersey thrown at you as the scouts and GM suck down coffee and whatever lunch they have left. Instead, you hang out with your buddy at home, tracking the internet like some schmuck fan to find out your fate. Sometimes, your buddy is a hockey player, too. In Kostenko's case, that buddy is a hockey player, and he is Capitals defenseman Dmitri Orlov. I imagine when they sober up from celebrating, Orlov will help him develop those goaltending skills by firing his already terrifying slapshot at him. Then again, they're in Russia. They might not wait to sober up.
Even if you're the last pick, in the draft, you are still an NHL draft pick, something that only about 210 kids a year, worldwide, get to say. That's special. That's life-changing. Not everybody can be Ovechkin (1st overall, 2004), and not everybody can be Patric Hornqvist (RW for the Predators, 230th overall, last pick, 2005, 80-69-149 in 263 NHL games), but they are all given the opportunity that so few who play and love the sport are. Congratulations to all of these kids, and they are still kids, and best of luck. I hope to see them all rock the red one day and make Lord Stanley proud.

Lean back, McPhee. You earned it this weekend.

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