There was something of a common theme among three of the four Capitals’ picks at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft: They play, or will soon play, college hockey.

Washington had the luxury of a solid prospect pool within the organization heading into a draft in which team officials didn’t believe they could acquire a player to help in the relative short term. So they opted to trade their first- round pick off to Chicago and add to the future with players that will require some development.

Of their four picks, defenseman Patrick Koudys just finished his freshman season at RPI while center Travis Boyd (Minnesota) will enter college in the fall. Defenseman Garrett Haar was set to attend Northeastern but after coach Greg Cronin resigned to join the Maple Leafs’ front office, he decided to decommit. Haar will spend another season with Fargo in the USHL and then go to college, according to Minnesota hockey reporter Ryan S. Clark from The Forum at Fargo-Moorhead. Fourth-round selection Steffen Soberg is the only Capitals draftee not taking part in college hockey.

“You’d like to have as many players as you could ready to play right away, said Ross Mahoney, the Capitals’ director of amateur scouting. “A lot of these guys are still very young players, physically they’re young, and so getting two extra years of development and working with the good strength coaches that they have is not going to hurt them. It’s going to be more of a help to them in their own development.”

Mahoney said he expects Koudys, a rangy blue-liner who will fill into his 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame, to take on a larger role and see increased playing time as a sophomore at RPI. Koudys, Washington’s fifth-round pick, joked about being drafted before his father, Jim, was in 1982 by the Islanders. But when asked about his offensive upside, he said he hopes to become more of a two-way defenseman.

“I feel my points this year don’t really affect my offensive ability that I have,” said Koudys, who recorded three points in 32 games. “That wasn’t necessarily my role. I feel next year I’ll be able to step in and fill that role and get some more points and then everyone can kind of see my offensive upside that I do believe I have.”

(Thanks to former Capitals media relations director Nate Ewell for RPI Coach Seth Appert’s evaluation of Koudys after his freshman season. )

“I think at times, Patty was challenged by the speed, size and strength of the players at this level, but over the course of the season, he started catching up and became a very effective college defenseman,” Appert said. “He’s very impressive in his work ethic and attention to detail and those things are going to win out in the end. I think his talent, mind for the game, and work ethic are real special, and we’re expecting great things from him in the next couple of years.”

The other defenseman Washington chose was Haar, in the seventh round. Mahoney said what they liked about the California native was that he is a “good skater, works hard, good compete level.”

Boyd is someone Mahoney described as a “smart player, handles the puck well, is a good skater” but added that he needs to bulk up in order to be effective as a professional hockey player, as is the case with many prospects when they’re first drafted.

Minnesota Coach Dan Lucia emphasized the same points with Boyd. “He sees the ice exceptionally well and is a tremendous playmaker. He is good on draws. He can play on the power play, on the half wall and can kill penalties,” Lucia said. “I think as he adds strength that he will be able to play in any situation that we have going into the next few years.”