Washington Capitals

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Capitals preparing for entry draft looking for diamonds in the rough

Capitals preparing for entry draft looking for diamonds in the rough

Although the Caps don’t own a pick in the first three rounds of this week’s NHL entry draft, assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said the team’s scouting staff is preparing as though they’ve got a full complement of selections—just in case.

“We approach it like we have a pick in every round because you never know what’s going to happen between now and when the draft starts,” Mahoney said on a conference call with reporters. “We made sure during the year that we had enough coverage on [prospects] in case something does happen and we do acquire a first, a second or a third.”

As things stand now, Washington owns picks in the 4th (120th), 5th (151st), 6th (182nd) and 7th rounds (213rd).

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The Caps dealt away their first three picks in the trades that landed Kevin Shattenkirk, Lars Eller and Mike Weber, respectively.  

“If it happens, it happens,” Mahoney said. “We’ve moved a few picks lately because we have a very good team and we’ve been making a run to try and win the Stanley Cup. If something comes up, and it makes sense to us, we could acquire those picks. If not we’ll go in with our picks in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.”

Asked whether he subscribes to the belief that this year’s draft isn’t a strong one, Mahoney emphasized that good players can be found in every round.

“We’ve had some players come out of all those rounds,” he said. “Philipp Grubauer and Braden Holtby, we took them both in the fourth round. We’ve had players like Connor Carrick, who have played some games in the NHL; we took [him] in the fifth. We’ve had the Mathieu Perreault’s in the sixth and the Johnny Oduya’s in the seventh. So there’s players there every year.”

“It’s up to us as a scouting staff as an amateur staff,” he continued, “to make sure that we get a couple of those players, and hopefully they play for the Capitals someday.”

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Braden Holtby — the skater — is a sight to behold


Braden Holtby — the skater — is a sight to behold

Braden Holtby is an elusive guy.

The 2015-16 Vezina Trophy winner might be large in stature, but keeps to himself. When you do see him, he's typically covered in layers of goalie pads or briefly chatting with the media following a game.

So imagine the surprise to see Holtby take the ice at Kettler IcePlex well before training camp begins with zero goalie pads on.

That's what took place on Monday morning. As several players hit the ice for some unofficial workout sessions, there was the 6-2 Saskatchewan native strolling onto the ice, with a regular stick, regular skates, regular gloves and Andre Burakovsky's helmet.


Frankly, it was a bit odd to see Holtby skate up and down the ice.

Maybe it's because we're used to seeing him in the crouch position. or maybe it's because we actually see his entire figure, not just a pile of leather pads.

But even goalies need to work on non-goalie skills. The more familiar you are with position players, the better you will be to stop them from scoring.

But man, seeing Holtby skate like a forward sure does take some time to get used to. 


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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 20 Taylor Chorney

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The 25 most important players for the Caps: No. 20 Taylor Chorney

Every player on an NHL team plays a role.

Some play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles. 

Today’s player: No. 20 Taylor Chorney.


One of the more interesting storylines during training camp is going to be the battle along the blue line and where everyone, particularly a veteran like Chorney, fits into the plan as the Caps skew a bit younger.

The top pair is easy to figure out; it’ll be Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen.

After that, it gets a little more interesting.

John Carlson will be on the second pair, perhaps with Aaron Ness.

If that's how things shake out, it would make sense to have Brooks Orpik anchor the third pair, especially if the No. 6 spot goes to a rookie since they'd surely benefit from the steady hand of a soon-to-be 37-year-old.

But will that spot go to a youngster like Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey or someone else? 

Or will it go to Chorney, a 30-year-old who's appeared in 141 NHL games spread over eight seasons for four clubs?

The Caps anticipate that Djoos and Bowey are closer to being NHL-ready than their other defenseman prospects.

Djoos lit up the AHL last season to the tune of 58 points in 66 games and the team needs to replace some offense. Bowey, meanwhile, has the look of a promising two-way defenseman.

But here’s the drawback—and where Chorney, in my opinion, fits into the equation.

Neither Djoos nor Bowey have done it yet. And until they do, no one can be 100-percent sure they’re completely ready to handle the everyday duties that the NHL demands. 

Chorney, to that end, has a significant advantage in experience, at a position where it matters a lot. He appeared in 18 games last season and a career-high 55 games the year before, also with the Caps. 

The bottom line: I suspect Chorney, who is entering the final year of his contract, will open camp penciled in as the team’s No. 6/7.

I also expect that he'll play a decent amount this season, maybe more than last year but perhaps less than 2015-16. I could even see him in the opening night lineup. Eventually, though, the Caps will want to see Djoos, Bowey or another youngster squeeze their way past Chorney and into the lineup full-time.        

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
— No. 22 Pheonix Copley
No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly