The Washington Capitals newest class of draft choices is a varied lot -- in talent, background and cultural experiences -- but none of them is likely to have had as tumultuous a year as Brian Sakic.

Sakic, like some current Capitals, has been entangled with the law.

Last fall, while playing in Swift Current in the Western Hockey League, the then 18-year-old Sakic and another player were arrested and accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl, according to Ellen Gunn, the executive director for public prosecution for the Province of Saskatchewan. Weeks later, a "stay" was placed on the case by prosecutors. According to Gunn, the stay means the government will not proceed with the case; if the stay remains in place for one year, the accused cannot be prosecuted.

"Based on the evidence available, {applying a stay} was felt to be an appropriate decision to make," Gunn said. She added that "based on the information currently available to the Crown {prosecution}, the stay will not be lifted."

Shortly after the stay, the girl was charged with "mischief," for bringing false charges. However, a judge found her not guilty on the charge.

Capitals General Manager David Poile was on his way to the American Hockey League meetings in Bermuda and could not be reached for comment.

"We live in a wonderful country where you are innocent until proven guilty," said Jack Button, Capitals director of player personnel. "As far as I'm concerned . . . Brian Sakic is as clean as a whistle."

Four current Capitals -- Dino Ciccarelli, Geoff Courtnall, Neil Sheehy and Scott Stevens -- are waiting to find out if they will be prosecuted after being accused of raping a 17-year-old girl following a season-ending party in Georgetown. A D.C. Superior Court grand jury is investigating. No charges have been filed and the players have denied the allegations.

Sakic was a fifth-round pick in the entry draft conducted June 16 in Vancouver. He and five of the other 13 players chosen by the Capitals were brought to Washington Sunday night for a tour of the city, as well as meetings and examinations -- psychological and physical. Four college players (because of NCAA rules) and three Eastern European players (because of restrictions and distance) did not attend.

Sakic played eight games with the Swift Current Broncos, scoring six goals and seven assists. But then he was traded to the Tri-Cities Americans.

"I thought and the team thought it was best to start new," Sakic said yesterday, though initially he did not want to leave.

The Americans had their own problems, with a team revolt against a stern coach. But Sakic become one of the most prolific scorers in junior hockey, finishing the season with 152 points.

"The trade helped me mature," Sakic said. "I found out what I wanted to be and that was a hockey player."

Sakic is the younger brother of Joe Sakic, a first-round draft pick in 1987 and the leading scorer last season for the Quebec Nordiques. Brian Sakic said his brother is a faster skater and a better scorer, but that he might be a better passer and playmaker. He hopes to someday play against his brother. He was glad not to have to play in his shadow again, as he did growing up and with Swift Current in 1987-88.

"I'm glad it wasn't Quebec," Sakic said. "I didn't want to have to go through that again."

Capitals Notes: Coach Terry Murray said he has spoken with three potential assistants. Rob Laird, who was Murray's assistant last season, was named head coach of the Baltimore Skipjacks. . . .

Murray said in an interview with WRC-TV-4 that he would like the four players to be on the roster when training camp begins in early September. Like many -- if not all -- in the Capitals' organization, Murray is anxious to hear a decision.

"I would like to get a decision made by the grand jury, to get the whole issue behind us," Murray said. He added he is hoping that once a decision is rendered, the team can "build on the positive things that happened at the end of the season last year in our playoff run. We can start off at training camp with everybody on a good, positive note and hopefully we'll start the season really well."