Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sun Rises in East...Caps Draft Goalie

George McPhee has presided over 12 entry drafts for the Capitals, including this weekend’s festivities in Ottawa. In nine of them (including each of the last five), he has taken at least one goalie.

This year’s goalie draftee was taken in the fourth round, at pick #93. Here he is (courtesy of…

Braden Holtby – Saskatoon Blades, 6’1” 205

2007-2008 record: 64 games, 25-29-8, 2.84, .908, one shutout

· Faced the second most shots (1875), among WHL goaltenders in 2007-08, behind Portland Winter Hawks' goaltender Kurtis Mucha (1897). In 64 games, he won 25 games, posted one shutout and finished 15th in the league with a .908 save-percentage.

· Patterns his game after Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury but also tries to take something from a lot of different goaltenders to create his own style.

· His most memorable hockey moment was his first game with Saskatoon – "it was a dream of mine, since I was about five, to play for the Blades".

· His dad, Greg, was a goaltender for the Saskatoon Blades and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and he wears number one after his father.

· Got his start in hockey on the backyard rink that his dad built – "I always watched my dad when he played goal and I wanted to be just like him".

· His first hockey team was the Lashburn Flyers and he played his minor hockey with Lashburn (1994-03) and Lloydminster (2003-05).

· Credits his parents for having had the most influence on his career – "they have been tremendously supportive and have both taught me everything I know about life and hockey."

· The best advice he ever received was a quote by Victor Hugo written on a plaque given to him by his grandparents – "There is nothing like a dream to create the future".

· If he could invite any three people to dinner he would choose: Marc-Andre Fleury – "he is my favorite goalie and he always seems to have a good time", Sidney Crosby – "it's amazing how he handles himself in the spotlight and how he plays with so much passion" and Taylor Swift – "I love her music".

· His most embarrassing hockey moment was his first WHL game in Red Deer – "right before the national anthem a guy yells out the goalie's name and the whole crowd yells 'sucks' after. I went out to the hash marks and tripped and fell right as the crowd was yelling it out".

· If he wasn't playing hockey he would be playing baseball and if he could be in any one movie he would want to be Jason Bourne in the Bourne trilogy.

It’s worth noting that no goalie in the WHL played in more games last year (Chet Pickard also played in 64 games). Here’s his scouting report from NHL Central Scouting’s Al Jensen…

"He has unbelievable athleticism and quickness. He was able to keep his team in games and keep them competitive throughout the year. His recovery was exceptional as well as his ability to get his body in front of shots. He battled very hard and was strong. He is a flashy player – he has a very good glove hand and very quick hands and his play improved throughout the year."

Although Pickard has drawn comparisons to former (it’s still odd to say that) Caps’ goaltender Olaf Kolzig, Holtby might be fairly compared to him as well, especially in terms of Kolzig’s later years with the Caps. A lot of work on a team that struggled (29-34-9, ninth in the Eastern Conference of the WHL).

For the record, here is the compleat McPhee when is comes to goalies:

1997: Curtis Cruickshank (4th round/#89 overall), Pierre Luc-Therrien (8/200)
1998: Jomar Cruz (2/49), Rastislav Stana (7/193)
1999: none
2000: none
2001: Robert Mueller (9/275)
2002: Maxime Daigneault (2/59), Robert Gherson (5/145)
2003: none
2004: Justin Mrazek (8/230)
2005: Daren Machesney (5/143)
2006: Simeon Varlamov (1/21), Michal Neuvirth (2/34)
2007: Dan Dunn (6/154)
2008: Braden Holtby (4/93)

Meanwhile, in the second round...

Caps had two picks, at 57 and 58 (the 54th having been traded to New Jersey last night as part of a deal to move up to #21). Here are the picks, background courtesy of

#57: Eric Mestery – D (Tri-City Americans): 6’5”, 195; 71 games, 2-14-16, +9

· Credits his parents for having had the most influence on his career – "they've been there for me the whole way and they've put so much time, money and effort into my career".

· The best advice he has ever received was "play every shift like its your last" from Todd Davidson.

· Patterns his game after T.J. Fast because – "he is great with the puck, a good skater, smart and a very good role model".

· His most memorable hockey moment was setting the Tri-City franchise record for most wins in a season in 2006-07 – "we had such a great group of guys and it was fun to share it with them".

· If he could invite any three people to dinner he would choose: Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman and his dad – "because Gretzky and Yzerman are our favorite players of all-time".

· His Grandpa Mestery pitched for the New York Yankees farm team.

· The most embarrassing song on his iPod is "Right kind of wrong" by Leann Rhimes and if he could be in any one movie he would want to be in Friday Night Lights.


NHL Team: Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers

NHL Player: Nicklas Lidstrom

Shootout move: "fake shot, make one move and go five hole or blocker"

Practice Drill: "Horseshoe with drop pass"

Video Game: NHL 08 and Call of Duty 4

Movie: Friday Night Lights

TV Show: Friends

Actor: Vince Vaughn

Group: Rise Against

Pump-up song: Anything by Rise Against or Hawthorn Heights

Food to cook: Grilled cheese

Sport (other than hockey): Golf

Activity away from the rink: Beach volleyball

Place to shop: Buckle

Place to visit: Home

Scouting Report:

NHL Central Scouting's Blair Macdonald...

"Eric has good mobility, is able to contain the opposition and plays well positionally. He moves the puck quickly and on the tape, and is a good skater which allows him to join the rush effectively. He needs to add a little bit more spark to his game and to play with more confidence to become a better defenseman."

#58: Dmitri Kugryshev – RW (CSKA-2 Moscow): 5’11” 183; 35 games, 29-29-58, 10th ranked European skater in CSS.

· Helped Team Russia capture the bronze medal at the 2008 World Junior Championships, playing in all seven games and posting four points (1-3-4).

· Also won a silver medal at the 2008 IIHF Under-18 World Championships, posting three points (2-1-3) in three games.

Scouting Report:

"Dmitri is a skilled winger with good vision and the ability to make plays under pressure. He needs to improve his physical presence and his overall speed, but his work ethic and balance on his skates still make him an effective winger."

Notes from Day One

Some notes about the first round…

- In 2004 (the last draft before the lockout), one player was drafted in the first round who was shorter than 6’0” (Rob Schremp, 25th overall to Edmonton)…last night, seven sub-six players were drafted.

- In 2004, 16 players under 200 pounds were selected, last night…20. However, where in 2004 no players under 175 pounds were taken, last night there were six players under 175 taken, and three (including top pick Steven Stamkos, plus Mattias Tedenby and Zach Boychuk) barely cleared the bar.

- On the other side, in 2004 nine players taller than 6’2” were selected; last night – six. And, while in 2004 there were 12 players more than 200 pounds selected, last night there were ten.

- In 2004, two…count ‘em, two (Wojtek Wolski and Schremp) were picked out of the OHL. Last night…11 players were picked from the OHL, including the first four picks.

- In 2004, seven centers were selected in the first round. Last night, twelve. Conversely, there were nine defensemen picked in the first round in 2004, last night there were 12.

- The United States was a constant in representation in the first round – six Americans were taken in 2004, six last night. Even for all the talk about the Russians and the uncertainty about their status this year, there were three Russians taken in 2004 (including the top two picks), two last night. It was the rest of Europe that took it in the teeth, compared to that 2004 draft:

- The big difference between the years was in trades. In 2004, with labor uncertainty hanging over the proceedings, only six deals were made in two days. Last night there were fourteen trades made in the first round involving 18 teams. Three teams – Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Nashville – made three trades apiece.

- This is the fifth year in the last seven that the Caps had multiple picks in the first round (last night’s second pick coming by virtue of a trade with Philadelphia, where the Caps parted with Steve Eminger and the 84th overall pick in this draft to get the 27th overall pick). With those picks, the Caps have now selected:

2002: Steve Eminger, Alexander Semin, Boyd Gordon
2004: Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Schultz, Mike Green
2005: Sasha Pokulok, Joe Finley
2006: Nicklas Backstrom, Simeon Varlamov
2008: Anton Gustafsson, John Carlson

- This is only the sixth time that the Caps have taken a center with their first pick. The list…

1978: Ryan Walter
1981: Bobby Carpenter
1999: Kris Beech
2000: Brian Sutherby
2006: Nicklas Backstrom
2008: Anton Gustafsson

Two of the previous five logged more than 1,000 NHL games, and only one has played less than 198 games (Nicklas Backstrom…we think he’ll pass that mark before too long).

And, if you’re wondering about Bengt – Anton’s father – he was a fourth round pick of the Caps (55th overall) in the 1978 amateur draft, the Caps’ seventh selection in that draft.