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Posted at 8:54 AM ET, 01/26/2011

Home-grown talent will pay off for Caps

By Nicole Weissman

One of the noteworthy things about this year’s two Super Bowl participants, the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, is that both feature a great deal of home-grown talent. According to ESPN, the teams are two of the four NFL teams this year with more than 35 of their own draft choices on the roster.

But while home-grown talent is something the instant-gratification-obsessed Redskins (definitely not among the four) seem adverse to, it’s been the Caps’ mantra in recent years. And since it’s working for the Packers and the Steelers, and it’s worked for one of the NHL’s strongest teams, I’m feeling increasingly hopeful that our patience will pay off, too.

The Caps’ current roster includes 14 players selected in the draft, which puts us almost up to the gold standard set by (who else) the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have 16 players on their roster picked up through the entry draft.

As the article from ESPN points out, a high number of drafted players doesn’t necessarily correlate with exceptional scouting and player development. Depending on how recently the players were drafted, the high number can also point to a terrible team in the process of rebuilding. Caps players drafted by the franchise date back as far as 2002 (Boyd Gordon and Alex Semin), with players representing almost every draft over the last decade.  By contrast, the Wings have selections dating back to 1989 (Nicklas Lidstrom), with players on the roster from drafts in the early, mid, and late 90s, as well as most years in the last decade.

The plot thickens with a look at when in the draft each player was selected:

Washington Capitals

Detroit Red Wings


Overall pick #


Overall pick #

































































So while each team has done a great job of using the draft to build a team, the numbers tell two very different stories. The Red Wings have picks going back over a decade earlier, and have players on the roster who were picked late in the draft, evidence of a team that has mastered scouting and player development to maximize the draft as a tool for building teams that will continue to be playoff contenders year after year.

The Caps’ story is different, though equally impressive. The presence of Caps picks from almost every year for the past ten years, as well as the fact that so many of the players were selected in the first round of the draft, points to a team that has successfully accomplished a massive rebuilding effort.

All that is interesting to note, but the two teams simply have two approaches to the same ultimate goal: use the draft to build a championship team. And if Detroit and the two Super Bowl contenders are any indication, the Caps are on the right track.

By Nicole Weissman  | January 26, 2011; 8:54 AM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  | Tags:  Capitals, Nicole Weissman  
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Considering that the Red wings have an 11 year head start on building a team in this manner, I think the Caps are doing pretty well. They are just 6 points out of 1st place in the Conference. They are allowing less goals per game. And they have more than a few bright stars in the system that can move up and fill spots as the team ages. This is how the Red Wings do it. The Wings did it this way AFTER they drafted Yzerman and won their first Cup in 97.

I say hold off on trading Eakin for Fisher. Keep that Kid. I want to win now more than anyone, but I'd rather be good for years than win just one Cup (maybe)now and sacrifice others in the future.

When the system has players ready to make the next step, that's when you can trade higher paid-good players for picks and prospects that keeps the farm system humming.

That's how the Caps plan on it, I believe.

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 26, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't agree more. If you want to observe a franchise that cannot muster enough patience to build a solid winner, just take a look at the 'Skins. Seems like every other year in the past ten or twelve, they're in the blow it up and start over mode.

I'm just fine with Caps stocking the farm and grooming young players for the long haul. I hope they don't get weak-kneed and abandon this method.

Posted by: prestoj | January 26, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

They have enough players now to make a serious run at the cup (or so we think). The missing ingredient is great coaching.

Posted by: Almazar80 | January 28, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

You have noticed though that a lot of the big $ players no longer get the extended duration contracts. There is a different emphasis on the style, pace of play, and ab ility to merge with new more dynamic talent.

Also, personal issues begin to preclude the wear and tear of the NHL season in an older player, an antithesis or mirror if you will of some of the problems experienced by the rookie hot-shot who is to be the new franchise player, even before donning the jersey, and meeting the teammates.

This has forced the business and management side to change their own strategies and commitments, and to embrace the process of that reassessment. Oftentimes retired players enjoy happier, even more rewarding lives than they did when they skated every night - like moving into management )Stevie) or into the head office (Shanny.)

Coulda sworn I saw either Ike himself at the gas station tonight, or it mighta been Gordie, the man gave his sol to the game.

Posted by: cooney_colin | January 28, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Chimera and Hendricks.

Just because our picks make the roster does not make us cup contenders. We are not Detroit and GMGM is NOT Ken Holland.
We need to be more flexble when needed which GMGM should take some lessons from Ken Holland.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 28, 2011 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Uh, Hendricks penalties in minutes number is a misprint right? I understand that he may have spent a little time somewhat directionless up there in the clouds of Colorado, however there is no way he should have accumulated that much time in the sin bin.

Oftentimes, the lack of commitment by the acquiring team indicates to the player that he is just free to enjoy the experience of the year in the big city, run up bar tabs and such, go to clubs and carouse, and look for options in the interim.

Things should get more interesting as the trade deadline approaches, because it looks like some managers are poised to make moves ahead of the traditional "last minute" schedule to be able to integrate their teams and lines way before the run-up to the playoffs, rather than the regular season philosophy of bringing in someone to fill a spot, gain ice time, and wait for the 1st stringer to get heaqlthy and re-appear.

At the very least this gives the guys all a chance to agrree as to what music they want to listen to over the loudspeaker during the warmups, should they be so fortunate to proceed.

The Wings really picked up a good one in Ericcson, that shot he cranked with 6 minutes to go against the Pens a couple of years ago reminded me of the Millennium Falcon going into lightspeed.

Posted by: cooney_colin | January 29, 2011 7:09 AM | Report abuse

I think what is most missed in the numbers is the fact that Detroit likely never had a top 20 pick in the last 20 years because they always ranked that well in the league and as such, had to compensate with your draft positions. Incredible.

Posted by: wcc118 | January 31, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

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