The Athletic’s Corey Pronman began releasing his annual NHL organizational rankings earlier this month and the Washington Capitals did not fare well.
Despite a breakout year from 2019 first-round pick Connor McMichael, the Capitals have the worst farm system in the NHL, according to Pronman. The list evaluates “NHL organizations’ young talent” and who has the best and most NHL ready prospects.
Organizational Ranking #31: Washington Capitals https://t.co/e3Fl7GGd35
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) August 24, 2020
“Development is huge,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said recently. “Our team is constructed on draft picks and development of draft picks. Ovechkin, Backstrom, Vrana, Kuznetsov, Wilson– these are picks that our amateur guys have made and we’ve done a pretty decent job of developing them.”
Pronman cites a lack of talent from the 2016 and 2017 NHL Drafts for the lack of a sturdy prospect pipeline now. The Capitals won back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies those years and were aggressive about trading draft picks away for the playoffs.
Here’s a look at the 11 players selected in those two drafts.
|Lucas Johansen (D)||Round 1 (28th overall)||2016|
|Garrett Pilon (C)||Round 3 (87th overall)||2016|
|Damien Riat (LW)||Round 4 (117th overall)||2016|
|Beck Malenstyn (LW)||Round 5 (145th overall)||2016|
|Axel-Jonsson Fjallby (LW)||Round 5 (147th overall)||2016|
|Chase Priskie (D)||Round 6 (177th overall)||2016|
|Dmitriy Zaitsev (D)||Round 7 (207th overall)||2016|
|Tobias Geisser (D)||Round 4 (120th overall)||2017|
|Sebastian Walfridsson (D)||Round 5 (151st overall)||2017|
|Benton Maass (D)||Round 6 (182nd overall)||2017|
|Kristian Roykas Marthinsen (LW)||Round 7 (213th overall)||2017|
The only player to make the NHL so far is 2016 fifth-round pick Beck Malenstyn, who played three games for the Capitals as an injury recall during the 2019-20 season and could potentially make the team as a checking-line forward next year.
When looked at as a whole, however, that longterm pain (which is being felt now) was totally worth it. The Capitals dealt several picks for NHL-ready talent during that time, including a July 2, 2015, trade with the St. Louis Blues which brought TJ Oshie to Washington. The Capitals also acquired Lars Eller from the Montreal Canadiens for second-round picks in 2017 and 2018. Both players were major parts of the Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup championship; Eller even scored the Cup-winning goal.
In his analysis, Pronman named McMichael the Capitals’ top prospect while Martin Fehervary, Aliaksei Protas, and Alex Alexeyev rounded out the top four.
The Capitals ranked 30th last year.
Screenshot courtesy of the @Capitals
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