After going without a pick until late in the second round in 2021, the Washington Capitals find themselves in a good position with the 2022 NHL Draft getting underway on Thursday. They hold the 20th overall pick in the draft, and this year’s draft class is strong with plenty of good names with a lot of upside.
However, Washington also faces a different scenario: there are voids in the lineup that need to be addressed, and trade talk is heating up league-wide. With the clock literally ticking, the Capitals know that their 2022 first-rounder could be a good trade chip.
General manager Brian MacLellan shared his thoughts on the No. 20 selection and what the team may do with it in the next 24 hours.
“There’s been a couple of discussions about moving it,” MacLellan explained. “I think if it made sense and you know, we get something that really improved our team, we’d consider it. Other than that, I’d say we’re more likely to make that pick. Ross [Mahoney] and his staff really like the range we’re in. We think we’re going to get a player that they really like.”
Mahoney added that the team is confident in where they stand in the first round and there are multiple players that Washington has its eye on.
“We have four or five guys we have a lot of interest in, and they kind of vary in position,” Mahoney said. “Some of them are forwards ad some are defensemen. We feel it’s a really good spot to be in, the opportunity to get a really good young player to add to our system.
“I think it’d be good if we can find a winger that can score. Somebody who’s more of a natural scorer. It’s always hard to find young defensemen, so I think that’s always, have that opportunity to pick up a young defenseman that maybe as the ability to play on the power play.”
When it comes to those players of interest, Mahoney did note that getting high-end talent would be a priority over perhaps a young player, but the goal is to get the top name available once the Capitals are on the clock.
“We’re tyring to [add high-end talent] in every draft. Sometimes where you’re picking, you sometimes get a talented player like an [Evgeny] Kuznetsov or John Carlson, but a lot of that depends on where you’re picking, and maybe your scouts being able to idenify guys that’ll be able to do that,” Mahoney said. “We’d like to walk away with some [higher-end talent], but that’s our goal every year.”
The first round of the 2022 NHL Draft kicks off at 7 p.m. ET in Montreal. Fans can watch on ESPN, TVA or Sportsnet. Rounds 2-7 will start at 11 a.m. on Friday.
Beyond the No. 20 pick, Washington will also select 46th, 85th, 149th, 181st and 213th.