Meet the Capitals 2011 Draft Class!

After trading away their first, second and third round picks, the Caps needed to make the most out of their draft selections this year because they only had four picks, the lowest amount they’ve had in years. It’s a little odd to see this approach from George McPhee as he has rebuild this team almost completely through the draft instead of free agency, but I’ve stated numerous times that the Caps are in a win-now mindset and McPhee is doing the best he can to bring the Stanley Cup to Washington as soon as possible. That said, I think him and the Caps scouting crew did well with this year’s draft class as there is some good talent here. It seems that he decided to go with the best player available approach instead of drafting towards the team’s needs and possibly reaching for a weaker player, which is a good idea when you’re a team drafting in the lower rounds. I was a little surprised to see him not take a winger, though seeing how I thought that was the organization’s biggest need coming into this year’s draft. Still, I think the Caps added some decent talent that will give them depth within the organization if anything. Let’s meet the players.

Steffen Soberg

Age: 17
Position: G
5’11″ 176 lbs
4th round pick, 117 overall
Youth team: Mangerlud Star

Thought it was interesting to see the Caps take a goalie with their first pick, but most teams seemed to pass on goalies in the earlier rounds (zero taken in the first) and Soberg was reportedly the 7th best goalie in this draft according to DC Pro Sports Report so it’s possible that he could have been the best player on the board at the time. Many people thought this was a waste of a pick with the Caps already being stocked with young goalies but keep in mind, Michal Neuvirth is on the big club now, Semyon Varlamov might leave for Russia and it’s possible that Braden Holtby could be ready to come up full-time very soon.  It’s entirely possible that Phillip Graubner isn’t even with the Capitals in a few years, too. Soberg is only 17 and who knows what will happen with our current goalies by the time he’s ready to come up. If we’re going to be a team that cycles goalies well like the Red Wings do, then it’s important to keep fresh young talent in the system and that’s what Soberg gives the team.

I haven’t had the chance to watch any highlight packages of Sobert so I’m judging him based on his stats, and his numbers with Mangerlund do not excite me at all. Save percentages of .904 and .884 in his first couple of seasons there, but what really impresses me is his post-season performances. He had a fantastic save percentage of .931 in six games with Norway’s U-18 team. He also impressed many in the U-20 World Juniors this year with a 48 save performance against the Czech Republic and he had faced over 50 shots in all three games he played in that tournament. He also led Norway to a gold medal in the U-18 world juniors last year. These indicate to me that he has improved over-time and has some experience playing in a big-game type setting so I will look forward to see how he develops as part of the Caps organization. It’s too bad I can’t see any highlights to know what kind of goalie he is.

Patrick Koudys

Age: 18
Position: D
6’4″ 210 lbs
5th round pick, 146 overall
Current Team: RPI

Scouts have said that he’s a big framed defenseman with solid two-way ability but yet to unleash the offensive side of his game. He is very sound in his own zone and isn’t afraid to get physical with opposing forwards, which could make him a good stay-at-home defenseman in the future. However, he also possesses a big shot from the point and good offensive instincts but he does not have the best footwork or speed, which limits him as an offensive guy from the blue line. He is still only 18, which means there is plenty of time for him to adjust his game, though. I did find some footage of RPI’s playoff series against Colgate and examples of Koudys’ game are kind of hard to find in the highlight packages because he doesn’t exactly do anything to stand out. You can watch them here if you are interested, though and may notice something from the highlights that I didn’t.

The Hockey Writers stated that he could be a steal in this year’s draft because of his potential and strong work ethic, which was confirmed by his coach at RPI. It seems that this kid has all the makings of someone who could be a top-4 defenseman down the road and is willing to do the work to get there so I like this pick for the Caps.

Travis Boyd

Age: 17
Position: F
5’10″ 185 lbs
6th round pick, 176 overall
Current team: University of Minnesota

Boyd has been part of the US Developmental Team the past couple of years and is establishing himself as a crafty two-way center with a knack for flashy plays. Some scouts have even gone as far enough to compare him to Claude Giroux because of his playmaking skills. He’ll have to improve on his 18 points in 24 games for me to consider him in that class but there’s definitely room for improvement. That and he seems a bit undersized for someone who can play a full 82 game season but as I said with other prospects, he’s still a teenager and will improve. Very excited to see what he does at the University of Minnesota since that is a fantastic hockey program. The Caps prospect pool is well-stocked with centers but many haven’t found a permanent spot on the roster yet (Mathieu Perreault, Jay Beagle) so adding more depth is never bad.

Garrett Haar

Age: 17
Position: D
6’0″ 193 lbs
7th round pick, 206th overall
Current Team: Fargo Force

Ranked #93 on The Scouting Report’s 100 Best Draft Eligible Skaters, Haar has the makings of a good powerplay quarterback. His great footwork and offensive awareness are the strongest assets of his game but he is also praised for his ability to break-up plays in his own zone. The two big knocks on him seem to be what they are with most offensive d-men. Tends to get caught up in his own zone when he tries to make a big play and he isn’t the most physical player, either. Still think he can bring a lot to the Caps organization. Want to find out more about him like what his favorite food is? Watch his Fargo Force profile video.

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