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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.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  June 24, 2009; 3:32 PM ET
 
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Comments

Let's get rid of Fehr to move up a spot and pick whoever we were going to pick in the previous spot.

Posted by: thiazzi | June 24, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Eeeeenteresting.

Someone on the previous thread asked who the Caps might trade to move up - I'm thinking ShaMo, Flash, and Bourque could all be on the table. I like Bourque and I'd like to see him in red, but I'd rather he play in the NHL somewhere than stay in Hershey, because he is NHL material dammit.

But, from this ... it sounds like the Caps might be open to a trade down to deal with next year's roster, and it makes sense based on what Tarik has said. We have tons and tons of talent in the pipeline right now (a Kelly Cup and a Calder for the same org in the same year? Yeah, that's a loaded pipeline). It also makes sense to draft for the best player available - holes can be filled through trades later if needed.

It sounds from this as though McPhee is thinking serious Cup run this coming season and will draft / hire / trade accordingly.

Posted by: kittypawz | June 24, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

WOOO Development camp dates. Does anyone know if there will be the scrimmage with Philly like there has been the last couple years?

Posted by: superpaqman | June 24, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I seem to remember that the game with the Flyer hopefuls was going to be an annual thing. However, I thought it was at the end of Rookie Camp vs Development Camp. Thought I remember some of the guys already being in town to watch.

Posted by: Kim-3 | June 24, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Weird, since most reports I read say it is considered a pretty deep draft.
I have faith.

Posted by: richmondphil | June 24, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Kim-3, yea you're right, sorry got a little ahead of myself. But I think the Philly/Washington scrimmage was only signed to happen for 3 years, unless they agree to more games. Though I think this would be the 3rd year, which city would host the game?

Posted by: superpaqman | June 24, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

There's all kinds of strategies when doing a draft. I like this one. Simple and effective, if...

If you pick good, and
If your picks develop adequately, and
If you trade good.

It's real hard trying to judge how an 17 or 18 year old player will develop. Schultz was picked higher than Green was. But with solid picks you can always find a dance partner when it comes time to do a deal.

Posted by: Greg S. | June 24, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

RichmondPhil

I haven't heard that at all. There's the top 3 or 4 then a drop in quality. The top 2 or 3 are ready for the NHL time now, but the rest are projects, some of which will develop faster than others.

Posted by: Greg S. | June 24, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

If indeed the draft talent falls off after the first 10-15 players like GMGM says and the fact that we seem to be loaded with talent in Hershey who seem ready to come up, it might not be a bad idea to look into packaging a couple picks and/or a player or two for a trade as long as the salaries are compariable.

Posted by: Moose33 | June 24, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

@Moose33: Exactly so. I think we're loaded enough through the pipeline in both the ECHL and AHL (Travis Morin has nothing more to learn at the ECHL level and has been forced into the ECHL by depth issues) to make that a worthwhile option to explore. Consider also that this team is one or two choice pieces from a long and maybe fruitful Cup run this year, and McPhee is better served to focus on the now and package up a pick and a player or two for one of those choice pieces.

Now, this is not to say that we don't have a lot of what we need in Hershey - we do. But I've thought about it, and picking up one piece can't hurt as long as we don't hamstring ourselves at the deadline or clog up our developmental teams.

Posted by: kittypawz | June 24, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

there is a players salary cap in the NHL but there's no such cap for the amount of money you can spend on your scouting staff.

All you have to look are all the non-first round picks on the Red Wings who contribute greatly to their success and two of the newest inductees to the hockey hall of fame, Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull, both mid-round picks.

Posted by: joek443 | June 24, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

interesting posts. I don't think they'll trade prospects to move way up, but if there's someone they love on the board and the price is right, I can see GMGM pulling the trigger. Don't expect to get anything good for Theo or Nyls, though. He's more likely to deal for an NHL player or prospect. I'm not sure any reason for a deal right now - it makes a lot more sense to go into the season and see how things shake out.


Posted by: WritingLight | June 25, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

ShaMo and Flash for Patrick Marleau -- throw in a second or third round draft choice if it seals the deal. Gets us a tough playmaking center and locker room leader for two guys who aren't living up to their potential as Caps.

Posted by: Exile_in_Philly | June 25, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

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