Every year as soon as the NHL draft is finished, everyone rushes to give their grades and their thoughts on what happened even though it is impossible to evaluate. Nobody knows how a team really did in a draft until time has passed. Players people project to be stars turn out to be busts while late-round picks end up surprising everybody.
As the Capitals prepare for the 2017 draft which will begin on Friday, let's take a look back five years to see how the 2012 draft panned out for Washington.
Filip Forsberg, forward, selected in the first round, 11th overall
Every Caps fan is of course well aware of the exploits of Forsberg whom the Caps traded for Martin Erat and Michael Latta, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he was a great draft pick. He has developed into one of Nashville's top offensive threats and certainly would be a top-six, probably top line player in Washington.
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Tom Wilson, forward, selected in the first round, 16th overall
Wilson has not lived up to being the 16th overall pick offensively, but has proven himself to be an NHL player with his strong physical play. He also showed flashes of the potential the team saw in him in the 2017 postseason, especially in the first round against Toronto in which he was phenomenal. What makes him hard to evaluate as a draft pick is how his development was mishandled early in his career. Would he be a better player today if he had been sent back to his junior team in 2013-14 rather than stay in the NHL to play fewer than eight minutes a night?
Chandler Stephenson, forward, selected in the third round, 77th overall
Stephenson has played in 13 NHL games and is still looking for his first point. This year could be a big year for him, however, as the Caps will be in need of depth forwards and I project he will spend the majority of the hockey season in Washington.
Thomas DiPauli, forward, selected in the fourth round, 100th overall
DiPauli was not signed by the Caps after the four-year deadline and became a free agent. He signed an entry-level deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the summer of 2016, but his first professional season was limited to just 21 games in the AHL due to injury. He has some offensive upside and was a very good college player in Notre Dame. Could he be the next rookie forward to shine with the Penguins?
Austin Wuthrich, forward, selected in the fourth round, 107th overall
After four years at Notre Dame, Wuthrich has spent the past two seasons in the ECHL.
Connor Carrick, defenseman, selected in the fifth round, 137th overall
Carrick was a surprise in training camp in 2013 and started the season with the Caps, playing in three games before being sent down to the AHL. He would be called up in January and stick with the team for the rest of the season. After that season, he struggled to stay in the Caps' lineup and did not play a single NHL game in 2014-15. He was traded to Toronto in 2016 as part of the package that sent Brooks Laich to the Leafs. Since then, he has been a regular in Toronto's lineup, but I have to wonder how much of that is due to a rebuilding defensive core. How big of a role Carrick will continue to have with the Leafs remains to be seen.
Riley Barber, forward, selected in the sixth round, 167th overall
Barber has played in three NHL games, but looks poised to compete for a spot with the Caps this year. His grinding style of play seems best suited for a fourth-line spot which is exactly where the Caps will need him.
Christian Djoos, defenseman, selected in the seventh round, 195th overall
Despite his small size, Djoos has shown he has NHL talent with a breakout year in Hershey last season. His size is the only thing really standing in his way and his chances of making his NHL debut this season got a heck of a lot better with Nate Schmidt leaving for Vegas in the expansion draft. General manager Brian MacLellan's comments seem to indicate both Djoos and Madison Bowey will be relied upon to have big roles next season. If he proves to be a reliable NHL defenseman, Djoos will be considered a late-round steal.
Jaynen Rissling, defenseman, selected in the seventh round, 197th overall
Rissling has spent the majority of his professional career in the ECHL. He played in five games in the AHL in 2014-15, but has not returned to that level since and seems unlikely to do so anytime soon.
Sergei Kostenko, goalie, selected in the seventh round, 203rd overall
Kostenko has played in nine ECHL games. He did not play at all in the 2013-14 season and has been playing in the VHL, Russia's minor league, ever since.
This draft reflects the enormity of the task the Caps face this season. Washington's first five picks in 2012 came before their first pick in 2017 (120). You can also see just how difficult it is to find value in the later rounds. All three of the Caps' first three picks have played in the NHL. Of the remaining seven players, only two have any NHL experience. The good news for Washington is that Stepehenson, Barber and Djoos are all likely to take on bigger roles this year.
Draft grade: B-
Amazingly, it still may be too early to fully grade this draft, but that's just the nature of hockey where it takes a great deal of time for most players to develop. What if Djoos turns into a top-four defenseman and Barber and Stephenson both thrive as bottom-six grinders? That would mean the Caps drafted six dependable NHL players. That is an impressive number of finds. One could also reasonably argue that Forsberg is the second best player in the entire draft. Snagging him 11th was a steal, even if he ended up thriving in Nashville rather than Washington. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Caps were no doubt hoping for more offensive production from Wilson when they took him 16th overall. While he may be an important piece in Washington, he has not delivered offensively.
What grade do you give the 2012 draft?
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