UPDATE 1:34 p.m.: The Caps rounded out their 2014 draft haul by selecting 6-foot-1 Swedish winger Kevin Elgestal from Frolunda’s junior team in the seventh round. Elgestal posted 12 goals and 22 assists in 44 games, though against lesser competition than that faced by first-round pick Jakub Vrana. With assistant GM Ross Mahoney set to address the media soon, we’ll put a bow on the live updates, but there’s still more to come from Philly.
UPDATE 12:40 p.m.: The Capitals have made their first player acquisition of the 2014 NHL draft, shipping the No. 164 (sixth round), No. 192 (seventh round) and a seventh-round pick in 2015 to Winnipeg for No. 159 and goaltending prospect Edward Pasquale. With No. 159, the Capitals drafted center Steven Spinner from Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School.
Drafted in the fourth round in 2009 by Atlanta, Pasquale has spent the past three seasons with the St. John’s IceCaps in the AHL. Last season, he appeared in 31 games, allowing 2.43 goals per game with a .920 save percentage. He could serve as the No. 2 goaltender in Hershey behind Philipp Grubauer, but is about to become a restricted free agent. The Capitals own his rights.
This gives the Capitals one more pick on Saturday: 194 overall in the seventh round.
UPDATE 12:35 p.m.: A small salary cap note: League sources have pegged Washington’s bonus overage at roughly $150,000, which will count against the team’s cap for this season. It’s basically the amount the Capitals went over the salary cap last season after bonuses were factored in. From CapGeek:
When the bonus cushion is in effect, teams can exceed the salary cap in performance bonuses by up to 7.5 percent of the salary cap’s upper limit. Should performance bonuses actually earned at season’s end push them past the salary cap’s upper limit, the excess bonuses earned will be carried over as a penalty to the team’s cap payroll the following season.
This is almost a negligible amount, but useful for accuracy purposes. This drops Washington’s cap space for 2014-15 to somewhere around $12.6 million.
UPDATE 12:32 p.m.: Gersich, a native Minnesotan whose father and uncles played for the Gophers, said he will spend next season playing for Omaha in the USHL then head to the University of North Dakota after that. He previously attended Holy Family High School, a small institution “in my backyard” in Victoria, Minn. He described himself as a “speedy, skilled forward” who liked watching Zach Parise growing up. He mostly played center but spent some time at wing for the USNTDP. “It’s a winning program.” he said.
UPDATE 12:15 p.m.: With the 134th overall pick, the Capitals drafted forward Shane Gersich of the United States national team developmental program (USNTDP). He tallied 32 points in 61 games last season and logged seven scoreless games for the under-18 team at the World Junior Championships. Per Hockey’s Future, Gersich is committed to the University of North Dakota but “may play for the USHL’s Omaha Lancers in 2014-15.”
As colleague Mike Hume notes, this isn’t the first time in recent seasons the Capitals have dipped into the national developmental program for draft talent.
Caps go back to the USNTDP well. Found some good value there in past with Connor Carrick, Riley Barber
— Mike Hume (@MikeHumePost) June 28, 2014
UPDATE 11:59 a.m.: Some perspective on Walker from Hershey broadcaster and media relations director Scott Stuccio: Walker’s “breakout” game last season came at Charlotte on Nov. 14, 2013, when he scored two goals on three shots. A backlog of bodies, Stuccio said, had the Bears scratching upwards of seven players each night, so Walker went long stretches without receiving much ice time. For instance, he didn’t play from March 22 to the season finale on April 19. That said, Walker commanded an immense following from Australia and impressed the Hershey staff with his attentiveness in practices and willingness to tussle on the ice. “For his size, he’s obviously really quick, but he’s tough and has no fear,” Stuccio said. “He scrapped it up after every whistle, as much as I’ve seen for a rookie.” Even Bears officials believed Walker wouldn’t be drafted until, at the earliest, the fourth round. “To trade picks and pick him in the third round shows the confidence they have in him,” Stuccio said. “That’s great.”
UPDATE 11:40 a.m.: After trading up in both the second and third rounds, the Capitals are off until No. 134 in the fifth round. So we’ve got some time.
UPDATE 11:32 a.m.: Walker is not here in Philadelphia, per a team spokesman, so here’s some more information on the 20-year-old. In 2007-08, Walker moved to the Czech Republic to pursue a professional hockey career, and began by playing with the under-18 junior team for HC Vítkovice Steel. (So there’s another, albeit tangential, Czech connection in this draft.) Walker attended developmental camp last season for the Capitals after one season in the USHL, and ultimately scored an invitation to training camp. The contract technicality forced him to sign a one-year deal with Hershey, so he entered the draft this season. With the Bears, he scored five goals and tallied six assists. That the Capitals traded back into the third round to select Walker speaks volumes about their feelings on the Aussie, as well as their emphasis on making sure he didn’t get away.
Message received from Australian client Nathan Walker, drafted in the 3rd round by the Caps, “We’re going nuts in my house, I’m speechless.” — Allan Walsh (@walsha) June 28, 2014
Easily the best thing about Walker is his affinity for “The Mighty Ducks” films. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Should he be selected at the two-day NHL draft at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Centre, it would cap a dream Walker has had since watching The Mighty Ducks with older brother Ryan at their family home in Grays Point, near Cronulla.
“You know the movie, The Mighty Ducks, that played a pretty big part in it,” Walker said. “I saw that and I just wanted to play.”
And here’s a scouting report from Corey Pronman in 2012:
Nathan Walker is quite a unique player, having a British and Australian background while suiting up for Australia in international competition. He is the first Australian to play in a top Europeans men’s league. He’s an above-average puck-handler who certainly has the skills to make things happen with the puck. Walker is also a pretty advanced thinker for his age, a big factor to the ice time he’s gotten playing in the Czech Extraliga, as he’s a responsible two-way thinker who knows where he needs to be in his own end and makes good, quick decisions with the puck. Walker has impressive vision and can certainly move the puck around well. He is an above-average skater who ideally would have an extra gear as a 5’9″ player but can move around the ice just fine and is quick on his first few steps. He has a somewhat forward lean that gets him a little lower than you’d like a 5’9″ player to be though. Despite his smaller stature, Walker is pretty strong and is very aggressive and physical. He takes his assignments with the body in the defensive end, and shows no fear from driving the high percentage areas. He lines up at left wing at even strength, but on the power play I have seen him play right wing to take advantage of his shot that can score from a distance.
UPDATE 11:29 a.m.: With that New York pick at the back end of the third round, Washington selected Nathan Walker, the forward who played last season for the Hershey Bears. He played 43 games in the AHL last season but, because of a technicality, had to enter the 2014 draft before signing an NHL contract. More to come from Walker, who becomes the first Australian picked in the NHL draft.
UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: The Capitals have traded back into the third round, swapping No. 104 and No. 118 — their two fourth-round picks — to the Rangers for the No. 89 overall pick, the penultimate pick in this current round.
UPDATE 10:32 a.m.: Vanecek is ranked the eighth-best European goalie by NHL Central Scouting. With assistant general manager Ross Mahoney scheduled to speak after the draft, it will be interesting to see whether the Capitals thought Vanecek wouldn’t be available at No. 44 and made a deal accordingly. That said, Washington does have a solid history of drafting goaltenders, like Semyon Varlamov (23rd overall in 2006), Braden Holtby (93rd overall in 2008), Philipp Grubauer (112th overall in 2010) and Michal Neuvirth (34th overall in 2006). With Holtby tabbed the starter for the upcoming season, a veteran backup presumed to be brought aboard soon and Grubauer as the No. 3 in Hershey, this is a pick for the distant future.
At the world under-18 tournament, the coaches selected the three best players for each team. The Capitals have drafted the rights to two of the selections — Vrana and Vanecek — from the Czech Republic.
This marks the seventh straight season the Capitals have made a draft-day trade. In 2010, they traded up four spots to select Grubauer, sending a fourth-rounder and a fifth-rounder to Toronto.
UPDATE 10:21 a.m.: Well, that didn’t take long for the Capitals to make a move. They traded up with Buffalo to No. 39, dealing their No. 44 and No. 74 picks in the process, to select Czech goaltender Vitek Vanecek. A recent run of goaltenders — three went between picks 34 and 37 — likely persuaded Washington try to move up to get its target. He joins fellow Czech draft pick Jakub Vrana, picked No. 13 overall by the Capitals on Friday.
Vanecek played for the Czech under-18 team over 22 games, last season, posting a 2.52 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. He also logged 38 games (2.64 GAA, .921 save percentage) with the under-20 team for Bili Tygri Liberec in the Czech league.
Vanecek is not here in Philadelphia.
The Capitals do not pick again until 104, barring another deal.
PHILADELPHIA — Welcome to the live updates thread from the second day of the NHL draft. We’ll post sporadically with any action from the Capitals brass. Here are some links from Friday’s round one to get you started: