The 2004 draft was the first after the Capitals decided to disassemble their high-priced veteran roster and rebuild from the ground up. Washington’s focus shifted to centering the team around homegrown prospects — starting with star left wing Alex Ovechkin. Given that the organization’s philosophy shifted then, that year was chosen as a starting point when I set out to take a look at how several years of Capitals’ draft picks have fared.

A detailed chart of every pick the Capitals have made since 2004 can be found in today’s print edition and in a sortable online format here.

To be certain, this is not an all-encompassing evaluation. Some players in this pool have not yet reached their full potential, making it difficult to rate those who were drafted in 2009 on the same scale as those picked five years earlier. However, with even three years’ distance on a draft, prospects are beginning to distinguish themselves.

Using games played and impact at professional levels in North America, the 55 players Washington chose between 2004 and 2009 have been rated on a scale of 0 to 5. (It’s far too early to truly gauge how the players selected in the 2010 and 2011 drafts will fare, seeing as only one of the nine prospects has completed his first year as a pro in North America. But we’ve included their current team, age, contract status and projected path.)

This data shows what is often true throughout the league: First-round picks typically have the greatest chance of being a difference-maker, or simply finding a consistent place, in the NHL. Of the Capitals’ 55 picks in those six drafts, 12 players (21.8 percent) have gone on to reach the 100-game plateau in the NHL and eight were first-rounders.

When we focus on the Capitals exclusively, 11 of the players who were drafted in that six-year span are expected to occupy a roster spot in 2012-13. That’s 20 percent that will fill a current need for the parent club – not too shabby.

We’ll have to wait to see how the Capitals’ 2012 picks fare, of course. But seeing as the team holds three picks in the top 54 overall selections, including two in the top 16, it’s certainly possible Washington could bring another eventual mainstay into the fold this weekend.

Click here to see the sortable chart.