McPhee: Caps Will 'Come Up With a Good Player'
Earlier this week, George McPhee had a brief discussion with reporters about this weekend's draft in Montreal. Here's some of what the Caps' GM had to say, plus some additional notes to get you ready:
* McPhee said he feels the first round drops off slightly after John Tavares and Victor Hedman and then again, more significantly, after the top 10 prospects on the Caps' draft board.
"Last year was an outstanding draft, it seems," McPhee said. "This year it appears there are a couple of players at the top that are a touch better than the next nine or 10 and then it drops off a little from there, based on what we see. But there's still an opportunity to come up with a good player, we think."
* McPhee's philosophy of drafting the best player available -- rather than reaching for a player who fills a specific need -- has not changed.
"If you're doing the right things, you're always taking the best player," he said. "And you find other ways, whether it be a trade or free agency, to fill any holes. [In the draft], you want a left winger who can play, versus a right defenseman that's not going to play."
He added: "If you draft for positions, then sometimes you make players out to be better than they are and you [pass over] someone who ends up playing and being a good player. If you have too many good left wingers, then maybe you have to move somebody to fill a position some place else."
* By the way, here are the Caps' picks: 24th, 55th, 85th, 115th, 144th, 174th, 204th. That's a pick in each round.
* Draft boards often change -- in a hurry -- based on what happens ahead of the selecting team. So it's difficult to predict with any certainty what the tight-lipped Caps will do with their first-round selection.
But as I mentioned yesterday, I'm hearing that McPhee and Co. have some interest in Landon Ferraro, who is among the players interviewed by the Caps, a league source told me moments ago. A right wing from Red Deer of the WHL and the son of former NHLer Ray Ferraro, he's also one of the fastest players in the draft and he's a shooter. A number of people I've talked to suggest that the younger Ferraro could eventually give the Caps the scoring threat from the right side they lack in the system right now.
Here's how TSN draft guru Bob McKenzie has the first round slotted.
*Although the Caps struggled in the draft during McPhee's first few years in charge, there's been a turnaround in recent seasons, particularly with first-rounders. Some of that turnaround comes courtesy of a handful of high choices. But it's also because McPhee has streamlined and refined his team's scouting process, bolstered his staff and, along with amateur scouting director Ross Mahoney, holds the scouts more accountable than in the past.
Since 2002, the Caps have had 15 first-round picks (more than any other team) and nine of those picks played in Washington this season: Karl Alzner; Alexander Semin; Mike Green; Nicklas Backstrom; Simeon Varlamov; Alex Ovechkin; Jeff Schultz; Boyd Gordon; and Eric Fehr.
*McPhee said he doesn't envision -- right now, at least -- making a trade to improve his team's first-round draft position. But he's open to making a deal to improve next year's roster.
"We're going to call every club to see what they're doing and see if there's a trade that makes sense for us," he said.
Given the choice between improving the team via a trade this weekend or when free agency opens next week, McPhee said he would prefer to make a trade. "Always," he added.
* On another subject, I'm told the lines of communication between pending free agent Sergei Fedorov and the Caps remain open. But the same source said it's too early to say that the veteran center will be staying or headed to market on July 1. So stay tuned on that one.
* Lastly, the players selected this weekend will be invited to attend the organization's development camp July 13-18 at KCI.
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