The Capitals restocked the organizational cupboard with six selections in the 2013 NHL draft Sunday in Newark. Here’s a closer look at Washington’s newest prospects.
LW Andre Burakovsky, first round (No. 23)
Height/weight: 6-1, 176 | Age: 18
2012-13: Malmo, in Sweden’s second-tier men’s league Allsvenskan
While the Capitals have had some success with late first-round draft picks reaching the NHL quickly, Burakovsky isn’t expected to fall into that category and is still at least two years away if not longer.
“He’s going to take a little time to develop,” General Manager George McPhee said. “I don’t think he’s going to be like a [Marcus] Johansson, where you draft him one summer and he’s in the lineup next year. If this kid takes a little more time to develop, that’s okay.”
Ross Mahoney, the Capitals’ director of amateur scouting, described Burakovsky as a strong skater with good hands and good playmaking sense and added that he isn’t concerned about the forward’s low offensive numbers (four goals, seven assists) in 43 games with Malmo last year because of the limited ice time he was seeing in his first year in Allsvenskan.
Burakovsky mentioned he was open to the idea playing juniors in the Canadian Hockey League. Mahoney said the Capitals don’t have a preference with regard to whether he would continue developing in Sweden or North America.
“Either situation would be good for him,” Mahoney said. “He’ll obviously be a year older and have the chance to play more with the men [in Sweden] but playing in major junior, playing against his peers he’s certainly going to get lots of ice time with the quality of athlete that he is. Either way it’s a win-win situation for him.”
Burakovsky was born in Austria while his father Robert played hockey there after a brief stint with the Ottawa Senators, but he grew up in Sweden and has spent his entire hockey career playing there. His father was in the stands with him at Prudential Center on Sunday and it was a special moment for both.
“My dad means a lot to me, he meant a lot to my hockey career so far,” Burakovsky said. “We talk every day and he’s a big, big reason why I sit here with this jersey on today. He’s here and he was almost crying when they say my name.”
D Madison Bowey, second round (No. 53)
Height/weight: 6-0, 195 | Age: 18
2012-13: Kelowna, WHL
A strong skater with a willingness to be physical as well as jump up in the play offensively, Bowey is a confident and competitive right-handed defenseman. He served as an alternate captain of Canada’s gold-medal winning under-18 team at the World Junior Championships this year in Russia, a factor that Mahoney said “speaks to his character.”
Bowey, a Winnipeg native, has always looked up to Jarome Iginla both as a skilled player and respected leader and said he has tried to “mold my personality” after the longtime Calgary Flame. When it comes to defensemen, though, Bowey said he sees similarities in his game to that of the Jets’ Zach Bogosian.
While he’s a solid skater and puck-moving defenseman, Bowey admitted he needs to learn to better manage his decision-making at times.
“My patience and the less is more mentality, making sure that I’m playing solid defensively and play a simple game,” Bowey said. “When I play my best hockey, that’s the way I play, simple, make the first pass and that sort of thing.”
LW Zachary Sanford, second round (No. 61)
Height/weight: 6-3, 185 | Age: 18
2012-13: Islanders, EJHL
The Capitals weren’t going to miss out on Sanford, who they believe has plenty of “raw” potential, so they packaged three picks (84, 114, 127) to Winnipeg for No. 61 so they could select the Boston College recruit.
“He was the last guy we had at a certain level. We felt it really dropped off after that,” McPhee said. “I know [Boston College Coach] Jerry York very well, had conversations about him about three weeks ago. He really likes him, thinks he’s a late bloomer and he’s going to be a good one.”
Sanford, who compared his game to that of Toront’s James van Riemsdyk, went to the Eastern Junior Hockey League after playing public high school hockey in New Hampshire and as he improved over the course of the year, his draft stock continued to rise. The Capitals believe that Sanford will benefit from playing in stronger leagues.
“I think you watch where he was at, how he progressed this year playing in a better league,” Mahoney said, “And you could see this young man has a lot of ability a lot of it’s probably pretty untapped until this year. [That he’s] going to a good program like B.C. is just another plus.”
D Blake Heinrich, fifth round (No. 144)
Height/weight: 5-10, 192 | Age: 18
2012-13: Sioux City, USHL
Another strong skater – the one common thread in all of the Capitals’ picks – Heinrich is a steady defenseman, who Mahoney described as “very strong on his skates for his size”.
Heinrich, who was not at the draft, is one of three Capitals’ 2013 picks who will play in the USHL next year before joining his college team. He’s expected to spend another year with Sioux City before moving on to Minnesota-Duluth.
C Brian Pinho, sixth round (No. 174)
Height/weight: 6-0, 173 | Age: 18
2012-13: St. John’s Prep, high school
Mahoney’s praise of Pinho was clear cut, the Massachusetts native is a hard worker. “I like his competitiveness,” Mahoney said. “I like that on every shift we saw a really good effort from him. Smart player, he played the point on the power play at times for his teams.”
Like Sanford and Heinrich, Pinho will spend next season in the USHL where he’ll play for the Indiana Ice before joining Providence in 2014-15. Mahoney explained that it’s not at all unusual for young players to spend another year or two in developmental leagues before heading to their NCAA teams.
“It happens quite a bit. A lot of times colleges want them to come in and be more of an impact player right away,” Mahoney said. “They’d rather have them develop another year at USHL, Eastern Junior league or could even be their high school so that they’re going to play lots and be ready to step in and contribute right away when they do go to college. College is not easy sometimes when you’re an 18 year old and you’re out playing against 22, 23 year olds.”
D Tyler Lewington, seventh round (No. 204)
Height/weight: 6-1, 189 | Age: 18 (Turns 19 on Dec. 5)
2012-13: Medicine Hat, WHL
A competitive stay-at-home defenseman, Lewington was dubbed a “good value pick” by Mahoney.
The Edmonton native stood out at the NHL combine last month, finishing first in three different upper-body categories: 150-pound bench press repetitions (16), pushups (42) and the push strength measurement (341 pounds).