The first round of the 2023 NHL Draft has come and gone and the Washington Capitals have added a player who will make an impact with the organization for years to come.
Well, that’s the expectation, at least. It’s not uncommon for some top prospects to flame out, spending years toiling away in the minor leagues before making a limited impact in the NHL, if at all.
The same thing could be said for the later round draft picks, but on the other side of the token. Expectations of, say a fifth-round draft pick, are considerably lower than that of their higher-drafted counterparts, and many late picks ultimately do not reach the NHL.
However, there are always a select few that make it, either through making an impression right away or years of hard work in the minor leagues. The Capitals have been no exception to this, with a handful of franchise icons having to wait a while before hearing their name called.
Here’s a look at some of them:
Braden Holtby, 4th round in 2008
Without Holtby, the 93rd overall pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, it’s not too far-fetched to think the Capitals would not have won the 2018 Stanley Cup.
Perhaps best known for saving an Alex Tuch one-timer in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, Holtby was one of the league’s elite goaltenders during his 10-year stint in Washington. He finished in the top four of Vezina Trophy voting three times, including a win in 2016.
To date, Holtby ranks second among Capitals goaltenders in games played with the franchise, in addition to being tied with Olaf Kolzig for the lead in shutouts (35).
Richard Zednik, 10th round in 1994
Zednik, a Slovak winger, was taken with the 249th pick in the 1994 NHL Draft — only 38 selections from the end.
He first became a regular during the 1997-98 season, finishing seventh on the team in scoring. Zednik remained a consistent supplemental piece during his time in Washington, tallying 134 points across seven different seasons.
Peter Bondra, 8th round in 1990
Bondra, a Ukrainian-born winger, was the 156th player taken in the 1990 NHL Draft, back when there were only 21 picks in each of the draft’s 12 rounds.
Despite his long odds, it took him only three years to reach his first NHL All-Star Game. He was the league’s top goal-scorer in 1995 and 1998, and was named an all-star four more times while donning a Capitals’ uniform.
Today, Bondra’s 472 goals rank second in Capitals history. He ranks third in franchise history in points (825) and has the fourth-most games played (961).
Ken Klee, 9th round in 1990
One round after Bondra, the Capitals took a chance on Klee, an American-born defenseman who, after a long wait, made his debut in Washington during the 1994-95 season.
He went on to spend nine seasons with the Capitals, tallying 111 points in more than 500 games.