The Washington Capitals had two selections in the first round of the 2012 draft. They had the 11th pick, received from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the Semyon Varlamov deal, and the 16th pick. Entering that weekend, many general managers talked about how top-heavy the draft was with talented defensemen. In fact, eight of the top ten picks were rearguards, which allowed the Capitals to draft the best European skater in the draft, Filip Forsberg at number eleven. Five picks later, they also selected Tom Wilson, who made the team out of training camp this season.
In the fifth round, the Capitals selected their first defenseman of the day (and one of three overall), the 5’11” Connor Carrick, out of the United States National Team Development Program. 46 defensemen were selected before Carrick was snatched up at pick 137. A lot of people had never heard of him at that point.
Funny. A full year later, Carrick is a household name among Caps fans and was the first defenseman out of the 2012 draft to play in the NHL — by about 40 minutes.
The Winnipeg Jets’ Jacob Trouba, selected 9th overall, made his NHL debut on Tuesday, October 1st as well, but because of the time difference, the Jets didn’t drop the puck that night until 9:07 PM EST. Carrick took the ice with the Capitals at 8:28 PM EST– after a lengthy delay for the Chicago Blackhawks to celebrate their Stanley Cup-winning 2012-13 season.
Seven defensemen from the 2012 draft have made their NHL debuts thus far this year: Carrick, Trouba, Ryan Murray (the second overall selection by the Columbus Blue Jackets), Morgan Rielly (selected 5th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs), Hampus Lindolm (selected 6th overall by the Anaheim Ducks), Mathew Dumba (selected 7th overall by the Minnesota Wild), and Olli Maatta (drafted 22nd overall selection by the Pittsburgh Penguins).
Griffin Reinhart (selected 4th overall by the New York Islanders) is also expected to make his debut soon.
The only thing Carrick can’t hold over every defenseman from this draft so far is being the first defenseman to score a goal and point. Jacob Trouba scored in his first game Tuesday night.
Carrick would be the second, scoring two days later against the Calgary Flames — his second NHL game as a pro. At least he can take some solace in the fact that he was the first 2012 drafted defenseman to be pie’d. He is also the only 2012-drafted player selected outside the first round who has played in the NHL so far.
How big of an accomplishment is this? Below are photos of all the defensemen picked before Carrick on June 22nd and 23rd of 2012. Give yourself approximately 10 minutes to scroll through this list. How many of these guys will never play an NHL game? How many of these guys will be in the NHL five years from now? Hint: Not many.
Just consider that Seth Jones, the number four overall pick of the 2013 draft, was the first defenseman selected and the first dman to make his NHL debut from that class. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
“Yeah, I leapfrogged all of these guys.”
Additional reporting and stats from Fedor Fedin.
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