The 2007 NHL Draft is done, and the Washington Capitals have some new players that they hope will fit into their organizational chart. On a weekend that saw the Capitals wheeling and dealing both days, Washington came away with ten new draftees, as well as stockpiling a few extras for the 2008 Draft. Let's take a look at the picks:
Karl Alzner - 1st Round - 5th overall
The Capitals came into the draft looking for a defenseman, and got what many people feel was the best one in the draft. Alzner is a very heady, stay-at-home blue liner, and may just be the prototypical defenseman for the 'new NHL'. He's got good size, he's excellent in his own end both on and off the puck, and plays with great composure.
Karl wore the number 27 with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League (WHL), because his favorite player is 2007 Conn Smythe winner Scott Niedermayer; but he patterns his own game after Nick Lidstrom and Chris Pronger. Like all three of those NHL superstars, Alzner possesses great team leadership skills and is a steadying influence.
Alzner is one of the most 'NHL-ready' players in this year's draft, and could compete for a roster spot very soon.
Solid, dependable pick.
Josh Godfrey - 2nd Round - 34th overall
Washington took another defenseman with their first of two second round picks - Josh Godfrey from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Godfrey is reaping the rewards of an excellent playoff performance with the Greyhounds. In a six-game Ontario Hockey League series against the Saginaw Spirit, he scored seven goals including five power play markers. All of them were on howitzer slap shots from the point, and it's that shot that propelled him all the way into the second round.
Before the seven goals, although Godfrey was a very improved hockey player in 2006/07, he was still considered to be a late round pick; the Central Scouting Bureau had him ranked 141st among North American skaters, while the International Scouting Service had him ranked 149th overall. He went 34th.
Considering that at the time the Capitals drafted Godfrey, they had a selection seven picks later at number 41, and again 12 picks later at 46, the pick was a reach. That isn't an indictment on Godfrey at all, with the improvement he showed last year, and the shot that he has, he could have a productive career on the Capitals blue line. Many experts postulated before the draft that Godfrey would go higher than the scouts had him ranked, and he's definitely a possible sleeper, but the fourth pick of round two seems too high when they had two more second round selections.
Ted Ruth - 2nd Round - 46th overall
Third pick, third defenseman. Ted Ruth played hockey for the U.S. National Training Development Program in 2006-07. Ruth isn't an overly offensive defenseman, but he does have a good shot. Like Alzner, Ruth's strength is his reliability in his own zone, and his savvy and leadership. He hits with conviction, and plays man-to-man very well.
Ruth also possesses a tremendous work ethic.
He'll be heading to Notre Dame University to play hockey in 2007/08 if he doesn't catch on with the Capitals organization somewhere in the fall. Ruth is just as likely to be able to contribute at the next level as much or more than Godfrey, so considering that this pick was twelve picks later, it was a much better pick.
Phil Desimone - 3rd Round - 84th overall
Washington didn't have a third round pick going into the draft, but they traded their 28th overall pick for the 41st overall and a second round pick next year, and then traded that 41 pick for another second round pick in 2008 and this number 84 pick. With the selection, the Caps chose center Phil Desimone from Sioux City of the USHL. Desimone put up 73 points in 60 games for Sioux City, good enough for the league's second best total, and good enough to win the league's Player of the Year award.
Desimone was actually passed over in the 2006 NHL Draft, so he has a little more maturity. He served as the Musketeers captain last year and was an assistant the year before, so again, another prospect with leadership skills. He'll need time to develop, but the speedy center has the makings of a good prospect.
Brett Bruneteau - 4th Round - 108th overall
The Caps took another center and another USHL product with their fourth round pick - Brett Bruneteau skated with the Omaha Lancers last season. He put up 44 points in 55 games. He also represented the US at the Under-17 Five Nations Cup in Huttwil, Switzerland, and served as team captain.
Brett follows in the footsteps of his grandfather Eddy, who played for the Omaha Knights before playing for the Detroit Red Wings.
THN will break down the other five picks, and give an overall grade in part two of the article later this week.