There appears to be complete agreement on who the top two picks will be on Sunday when the NHL opens its annual draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. [3 pm., NBC Sports Network].
Most expect the Colorado Avalanche to take Halifax center Nathan MacKinnon with the first pick overall and for the Florida Panthers to select Portland defenseman Seth Jones at No. 2
After that, scouts and prognosticators are all over the map, which makes it difficult to assess which players will be available when the Capitals pick at No. 23.
With that in mind here are seven forwards that may interest the Caps when it’s their turn to pick:
Bo Horvat, C, London [OHL]: Ranked 10th by International Scouting and 26th by The Hockey News, Horvat is a solid, hard-nosed centerman who played two seasons for the London Knights, coached by Dale Hunter. Horvat uses his 6-foot, 206-pound body to pry loose pucks on the forecheck and is excellent on faceoffs. He recorded 33 goals and 61 points in 67 games this season.
Antony Mantha , RW, Val-d’Or [QMJHL]: At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Mantha has top-six potential. His greatest strengths are his skating, long reach and ability to get off a quick shots that accounted for 50 goals this season. Mantha is also strong on shootouts but scouts say that with his size he could be a little more physical.
Kerby Rychel, LW Windsor [OHL]: Born in Los Angeles, where his father, Warren, played for the Kings, Rychel skates well and uses his 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame to play a physical game to go along with his skill level. Rychel scored 40 goals [16 on the power play] and accumulated 94 penalty minutes in 68 games this season.
Zach Nastasiuk, RW, Owen Sound [OHL]: Born in Barrie, Ontario, Nastasiuk is the son of Paul Nastasiuk, who played seven seasons in Canadian Football League. Nastasiuk is a hard-working, two way winger who can kill penalties and finished with 20 goals nd 20 assists in 62 games.
Alexander Wennberg, C/LW, Djurgarden [Sweden]: Listed as a center and left wing, Wennberg is a pass-first forward who plays more like a center. At 6-1, 190 pounds, Wennberg fared well against older competition in Sweden and might be closer to the NHL than some of his draft counterparts. He managed 14 goals and 32 assists in 46 games this season.
Frederick Gauthier, C, Rimouski, [QMJHL]: At 6-foot-3, 192 pounds, Gauthier is known more for his defensive reliability than for his offense, although he is capable of scoring. He put up 22 goals and 60 points in 62 games for Rimouski this season and could be snatched up higher in the draft because of his size.
Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth [OHL]: Hartman is one of those do-it-all forwards whose value is often measured by the heart he shows on the ice. At 5-foot-11, 181 pounds, he won a gold medal for Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championships and managed 23 goals and 60 points in 56 games for Plymouth, where he was teammates with Caps prospect Tom Wilson.
Here are the eight picks the Caps currently hold in the draft:
Round 1 [23rd overall]
Round 2 [53rd overall]
Round 3 [84th overall]
Round 4 [114th overall]
Round 5 [127th overall, 144th overall]
Round 6 [174th overall]
Round 7 [204th overall]