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2023 NHL Draft

Capitals Targeting Best Player Available With No. 8 Draft Pick, Mahoney Says



Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney says the team will target the best player available when the team is on the clock in next week's NHL Draft.

In a matter of days, the Washington Capitals will make a franchise-altering draft pick and, with that, acquire one of the more vital pieces of the impending post-Ovechkin era.

The Capitals’s front office will have its pick from a host of high-end talent when the team goes on the clock at No. 8 in Wednesday’s NHL Draft, first and foremost finding a future impact piece.

“We’ve always tried to take the best player that’s available to us,” assistant general manager Ross Mahoney, who oversees the Capitals’ draft efforts, said Thursday. “To pass on one player for another player, let’s say because of a positional need, you may regret that later. You pass on a defenseman and you took a forward because you thought you needed some forwards, that could be tough . . . [B]asically, it’s best player available to us.”

That was the team’s approach last year, drafting Russian forward Ivan Miroshnichenko despite a Hodgkins’ lymphoma diagnosis three months before. At one point a potential top-10 pick, his medical status allowed him to fall into the Capitals lap at No. 20.

But, by picking in the top-10 for the first time since 2007, the Capitals won’t have to get lucky to come away with a key piece of their future plans.

Matvei Michkov, rated the No. 2 international skater by NHL Central Scouting, has been rumored to be the Capitals choice when they get on the clock so long as he falls due to contract concerns, among other reasons — a genuine possibility. If he’s not on the board, the team will still come away with a prospect like Slovak center Dalibor Dvorsky, American winger Ryan Leonard or Austrian defenseman David Reinbacher — widely rated as the draft’s top defender.

“You don’t like how you get there, obviously you’d like to have the last pick in the first round, but it’s exciting no matter where you pick in the first round,” Mahoney said. “The higher you’re picking, the better the player you should be getting.

“I think this is our first top 10 pick since 2007, so it’s been awhile since we had that pick, but I know the guys are excited, the scout are very excited to be able to — now that we’ve actually got that pick at eight — to call a player’s name that we think will be a very good player for the Capitals in the future.”

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.