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Capitals 2022 NHL Draft Targets: Rutger McGroarty



Could the Capitals be interested in Rutger McGroarty?

The 2022 NHL Draft kicks off on Thursday, and for now, the Washington Capitals hold the No. 20 pick. Of course, anything could happen for any team with regard to a trade or potentially moving up or down.

But at this moment, the Capitals will get a first-round selection for the first time since 2020, and there are a lot of strong names to choose from, especially with regard to the U.S. National Team Development Program. And, one name that could fit Washington’s criteria: Rutger McGroarty.

The Nebraska native is coming off an impressive campaign that saw him dish 35 goals and 34 assists in 54 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program’s U18 team. He also posted 15 goals and 18 assists in 25 games with the NTDP Juniors in the USHL.

McGroarty is one of the more interesting names in this year’s draft. The 6-1, 204-pound right wing is comparable to Matthew Tkachuk and Anders Lee. He’s good along the walls, physical and not afraid to get to the gritty, dirty areas in front to score. However, his ability doesn’t stop there: he has great hands, skill, good hockey sense and a solid shot. He can also start the play and make a good breakout pass, then get to the right area to finish it.

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At the other end of the ice, McGroarty battles hard for the puck and reads the play well, and he is also versatile and able to play in multiple positions. He is good in the neutral zone and also takes good care of the puck.

Beyond his play, he’s a leader off the ice and a vocal player in the locker room, and he also served as the captain for Team USA at the IIHF U18 World Junior Championship.

One area where he needs to improve is his skating, but he’s already seen a major step forward in that department and can continue to improve with the right development. He can also stand to add more strength, though he already has a good size and frame that will benefit him as he transitions to the higher levels.

McGroarty is a Michigan commit who is taking the NCAA route. If he cracks the NHL someday, he will be just the fourth Nebraska-born player in NHL history. Neal Pionk is currently the only active Nebraska native in the Show.

Overall, he would be a solid player for the Capitals, who needs more forward depth and secondary scoring as the Stanley Cup window closes and the core ages. The 18-year-old has plenty of upside and room to grow and can be a contributor at the NHL level as he continues to elevate his game.