Capitals Spurn Offers, Pick Six

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Less than 24 hours after trading up twice in the first round, the second day of NHL entry draft went pretty much according to script for General Manager George McPhee and the Washington Capitals.

But that's not to say McPhee wasn't tempted. At one point during the second round yesterday he called a timeout before back-to-back picks at 57 and 58 so he could consider "a handful" of offers.

But after mulling the proposals, McPhee kept both selections and chose lanky defenseman Eric Mestery (Tri-City, Western Hockey League) and skilled winger Dmitri Kugryshev (CSKA-2).

"There was a lot going on," McPhee said by telephone from Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. "One team offered a prospect. Another team offered a minor league player that has a chance. Someone else offered picks next year. But we had two players there that we wanted to pick, players who were more valuable than what was offered."

Mestery, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound native of Winnipeg, is a smooth skater who scouts hope will develop into a steady and reliable defenseman in the NHL. Meantime, McPhee believes that the lack of a transfer agreement probably allowed Kugryshev to drop.

"We thought he may have gone somewhere in the first round," McPhee said of Kugryshev, a 5-11, 183-pounder who amassed 29 goals and 29 assists in Russia's third division last season.

McPhee used his next four picks to select a goalie and three forwards, one day after taking Anton Gustafsson and John Carlson with the 21st and 27th picks in a trade-filled first round. Gustafsson, a center and the son of former Capitals great Bengt, will remain in Sweden next season; Carlson will suit up for Dale Hunter's London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, McPhee said.

Unlike recent years when Washington possessed a high first-round pick, none of the players selected this weekend is expected to contribute in Washington anytime soon. But McPhee said he was pleased with the players he got, particularly Gustafsson, Carlson and Mestery.

"I'm more than satisfied," McPhee said. "The first three players we acquired were the players we wanted. So three or four years down the road, we'll be able to evaluate how we did because we got the guys we wanted."

Washington's other draftees were Braden Holtby (fourth round, 93rd overall) an athletic but raw goalie from Saskatoon of the WHL; Joel Broda (fifth, 144th), a two-way center from Moose Jaw of the WHL; Greg Burke (sixth, 174th), a left wing who will attend the University of New Hampshire; and Stefan Della Rovere (seventh, 204th), a left wing from Barrie of the OHL.

Note: The Los Angeles Kings selected Garrett Roe, a native of Vienna, in the seventh round (183rd overall).

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