The 2014 NHL Draft is rapidly approaching! The draft, which begins on June 27th, is being held in Philadelphia. The Washington Capitals currently hold the 13th overall selection in the first round of the draft and have nine picks in total.
The Capitals have an array of options in terms of roster and player personnel moves that they can execute, on what is building to become a very busy and exciting draft day.
You can follow Fedor on Twitter at @FedFedRMNB.
Daryoush: Fedor, the Caps currently hold the 13th overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft. Brian MacLellan and Ross Mahoney are open to moving up and down in the draft, as well as even trading the pick if the right offer comes along. What do you think they do, and what should they do?
Fedor: I think they keep the pick. The draft day trades at the top of the list are somewhat rare, so I do think they keep it. However, if I was them, I would attempt to trade down. Their selection is close to the top of the tier and if they can trade down within that tier (think pick 19 or higher), in which they can get a middle second-round pick as “change”, I would pull the trigger on that deal. I like the second round this year and I think the difference between picks 13 and 18 or 19 this year is not that significant.
Daryoush: The Caps are currently actively pursuing a top-four defenseman via trade and the 13th overall pick could be a possible trading chip. Do you see a specific player fit (in the draft) at 13 where Washington would be better off keeping the selection, rather than trading it, because the player they could realistically draft would be close to being NHL-ready in the near future (for example, a potential top four-defenseman or second-line center in the next year or two)?
Fedor: I think any forward you draft in that range, you expect him to at least be in consideration for a roster spot a season later. That is a scenario you should hope for. With defensemen things are more difficult. Of all players likely available at the Capitals selection, I think the most NHL ready are Ivan Barbashev and Brendan Perlini, but it is a hard thing to gauge.
Daryoush: What route would you go in the first round if you are Washington? A wing, center, or defenseman?
Fedor: At 13 or even a bit lower I would draft a forward. It does not matter if it is a wing or a center. There are a plenty of versatile guys and I would not mind one of them.
Daryoush: Ivan Barbashev and Haydn Fleury are two draft-eligible players that the Caps scouted quite a bit last season. Barbashev is a very talented and solid two-way forward that can play center and wing. Fleury is a very solid, skilled, and mobile two-way defenseman. Who would you rather have and why?
Fedor: I would rather have Barbashev. Fleury would be in a logjam of D prospects in D.C. and would probably take longer to develop. Barbashev would automatically become our top forward prospect. I would love Barbashev even more if we could trade down. At 13, he might be a bit of a reach because of the “Russian Factor”. Other than the Caps, I do not think there is a team that will pick him up before 16 and it would be very wise to take advantage of it.
Daryoush: What should the focus of Washington’s draft be? Overall in their organization they seem to lack high-end talent behind the obvious top guys in the pipeline (Burakovsky, Barber, Bowey, Carrick). They have many solid defensive prospects but arguably only one (Bowey) with top-pairing potential. At center, they have Chandler Stephenson who could become a wing for all we know, and Zach Sanford a few years away. At wing, there is not much behind Andre Burakovsky and Riley Barber either. They seem to lack depth in terms of skilled players in the pipeline. There are a couple high-end talents, but not many. Do you agree or disagree, and what would you focus on in this draft?
Fedor: I agree with your assessment. That is why I would go with a more skilled player in the first round. Ivan Barbashev, Robby Fabbri, Kevin Fiala, and Sonny Milano are some of those highly-skilled, dynamic players. The second round, in my opinion, is a good place to draft some defensemen.
Daryoush: In general, who is your most overrated and underrated prospect in this draft class?
Fedor: It is tough for me to call someone overrated, but I think two of the underrated guys I have already mentioned are Fabbri and Milano. Barbashev is underrated because of his nationality, but those two guys I really like as well. With Fabbri though, you have to wonder “underrated by whom”. Some have him at 10-11, and some outside of the top-20. I think anything below 15 is a steal for that shifty energy forward. Another underrated prospect is goalie Thatcher Demko. He is the best goalie in the draft and he was playing in college hockey last season against grown men (22 & 23 year-olds). GMs are careful picking goalies in the first round (I think Demko will end up 30th overall and will go to New Jersey), but he stands out amongst most other players in this class.
Thanks again to Fedor and hope all the readers enjoyed!