Sunday, July 17, 2011

George McPhee's draft history

Anyone that knows me, or reads my blog knows that I am a big supporter of George McPhee. I think McPhee is primarily responsible for the current state of the organization and will be primarily responsible for the team winning the Stanley Cup.
But, there are those among Caps nation that think anyone with the amount of first round picks the Caps have had the last seven years could have built this team and that McPhee is the reason the team hasn’t moved beyond the second round of the playoffs since 1998.
I’ve also heard arguments that McPhee should’ve learned what it takes to win in the playoffs well before his 14th season as General Manager and his argument that a playoff coach is no different than a regular season coach is utterly ridiculous.
So, I decided to take a look back at all of the drafts since McPhee was hired as Vice President and General Manager on June 9, 1997.
1997
9
Nick Boynton
D
35
Jean Francois Fortin
D
89
Curtis Cruickshank
G
116
Kevin Caulfield
RW
143
Henrik Petre
D
200
Pierre-Luc Therrien
G
226
Matt Oikawa
RW

1998
49
Jomar Cruz
G
59
Todd Hornung
C
106
Krys Barch
LW
107
Chris Corrinet
RW
118
Mike Siklenka
D
125
Eric Wendell
C
179
Nathan Forster
D
193
Ratislav Stana
G
220
Mike Farrell
D
251
Blake Evans
C

1999
7
Kris Beech
C
29
Michal Sivek
C
31
Charlie Stephens
C/RW
34
Ross Lupaschuk
D
37
Nolan Yonkman
D
132
Roman Tvrdon
C/LW
175
Kyle Clark
R


192
David Bornhammer (Johansson)
D
219
Maxim Orlov
C
249
Igor Shadilov
D

2000
26
Brian Sutherby
C
43
Matt Pettinger
LW
61
Jakub Cutta
D
121
Ryan Vanbuskirk
D
163
Ivan Nepriayev
C
289
Bjorn Nord
D

2001
58
Nathan Paetsch
D
90
Owen Fussey
RW
125
Jeff Lucky
RW
160
A. Ternavsky
D
191
Zybnek Novak
F
221
John Oduya
D
249
Matt Maglione
D
254
Peter Polcik
LW
275
Robert Muller
G
284
Viktor Hubl
LW

2002
12
Steve Eminger
D
13
Alexander Semin
LW
17
Boyd Gordon
RW
59
Maxime Daigneault
G
77
Patrick Wellar
D
92
Derek Krestanovich
C
109
Jevon Desautels
LW
118
Petr Dvorak
C
145
Robert Gherson
G
179
Marian Havel
C/LW
209
Joni Lindlof
W
242
Igor Ignatushkin
W
272
Patric Blomdahl
W
18
Eric Fehr
RW
83
Steve Werner
RW
109
Andreas Valdix
LW
155
Josh Robertson
C
249
Andrew Joudrey
C
279
Mark Olafson
RW

2004
1
Alex Ovechkin
LW
27
Jeff Schultz
D
29
Mike Green
D
33
Chris Bourque
LW
62
Mikhail Yunkov
C
66
Sami Lepisto
D
88
Clayton Barthel
D
132
Oscar Hedman
D
138
Pasi Salonen
LW
166
Peter Guggisberg
RW
197
Andrew Gordon
RW
230
Justin Mrazek
G
263
Travis Morin
C

2005
14
Sasha Pokulok
D

27
Joe Finley
D

109
Andrew Thomas
D

118
Patrick McNeill
D

143
Daren Machesney
G

181
Tim Kennedy
LW

209
Viktor Dovgan
D


2006
4
Nicklas Backstrom
C
23
Simeon Varlamov
G
34
Michal Neuvirth
G
35
Francois Bouchard
RW
52
Keith Seabrook
D
97
Oskar Osala
LW
122
Luke Lynes
C
127
Maxime Lacroix
LW
157
Brent Gwidt
C
177
Mathieu Perreault
C

2007
5
Karl Alzner
D
34
Josh Godfrey
D
46
Theo Ruth
D
84
Phil DeSimone
C
108
Brent Bruneteau
C
125
Brett Leffler
RW
154
Dan Dunn
G
180
Justin Taylor
C
185
Nick Larson
C
199
Andrew Glass
LW

2008
21
Anton Gustafsson
C
27
John Carlson
D
57
Eric Mestery
D
58
Dmitry Kugryshev
RW
93
Braden Holtby
G
144
Joel Broda
C
174
Greg Burke
LW
204
Stefan Della Rovere
LW
2009
Marcus Johansson
Dmitri Orlov
Cody Eakin
Patrick Wey
Brett Flemming
Garrett Mitchell
Benjamin Casavant
2010
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Stanislav Galiev
Phillip Grubauer
Caleb Herbert
Samuel Carrier
2011
Steffen Soberg
Patrick Koudys
Travis Boyd
Garrett Haar

McPhee clearly missed on almost every pick in his first five drafts. Brian Sutherby and Matt Pettinger are the only picks to ever become NHL regulars and neither of them are impact players.
McPhee’s fortunes changed with the 2002 and 2003 drafts when he drafted Alexander Semin, Boyd Gordon and Eric Fehr. Semin and Gordon were selected in 2002 and Fehr in 2003. Semin is the only one who is on the roster now as Gordon decided to sign with the Coyotes a few weeks ago, and Fehr was just traded to the Winnipeg Jets.
But, to me this is was a key draft because the Capitals turnaround because it brought players to the organization that became regulars and were guys the team could count on. Yes, Semin is clearly the best of the three and Fehr battled injuries, but the Caps did get a 21 goal season from Fehr and Gordon was a solid fourth-line center who could be counted on to play on the penalty kill and won nearly 60% of his faceoffs last season.
Since 2004, McPhee has drafted Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Nicklas Backstrom, Michael Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov, Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Marcus Johansson that have become NHL regulars while Mathieu Perreault has been a solid contributor on recalls.
Braden Holtby flashed his potential this past season that has many thinking he will ultimately win the Capitals starting goaltender race.
There is also Dmitri Orlov, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Cody Eakin who played in the gold medal game of the World Junior Championships this past year and is expected to make the NHL roster in the next few years.
Not everyone single player has been a first round selection, either. Perreault was a 6th round pick in 2006 while Holtby was a fourth round pick in 2008. Eakin was actually selected in the third round in 2009 which is technically a high round pick, but I still think McPhee should get credit for that.
Where the improvement has come from I don’t know, but whatever it is doesn’t need to be changed.
George McPhee knows what this team and this organization needs. I know there has been a big stink about his decisions to not jump into free agency before this past offseason, but he wanted to see which of the homegrown players were going to pan out and which ones they needed to trade, or not resign in order to improve the team.
Depending on how this year’s free agent signings pan out, McPhee may need to part with a few of his young assets in order to give the Caps the one or two players they need to make a run at the Cup. But, that remains to be seen.
George McPhee built the Capitals into what is the best professional team in this area at this time and he did it once Ted Leonsis gave him full rain to do so.
I think he deserves to be here to see the end result.

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