As the NHL Scouting Combine continues in Buffalo, the Washington Capitals continue to gear up for what should be a busy offseason. The team not only has to address a number of free agents but also work to fill the voids left by Tom Wilson and potentially Nicklas Backstrom, whose future remains in flux. But, beyond the market and injuries, Washington also has a first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, selecting at No. 20.
Considering the current state of the roster and organizational depth chart, and the fact that the team went all-in defensively last season, the Capitals may want to turn their attention to the forward position. And, one name that could be of interest: right-wing Jagger Firkus.
Firkus is ranked No. 12 among North American skaters going into this draft. He had a breakout season with the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors, dishing 36 goals and 44 assists through 66 regular-season games. He trailed only phenom Connor Bedard in goals by U18 WHL players this past season. Firkus continued to make his mark in the postseason with six goals and six assists in 10 playoff games. Not only that but Firkus was named Team White’s Player of the Game after dishing a goal and an assist in the 2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
The Alberta native has a great hockey IQ and possesses great skill and a wicked shot. He has the ability to create passing lanes and get into high-scoring areas, and he does a lot of his damage in the slot. His mentality is to get to the net and score — by any means possible. And he accomplishes this with that quick release and crafty stickhandling ability that helps him make smart passes and highlight-reel plays on the fly.
Jagger Firkus with the cleeeaannn Michigan 🥍
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 23, 2022
Firkus can also score from range, though, and without the puck, he creates screens in front and generate chaos and traffic to further lead to scoring chances thanks to his “crash the net” mentality.
On the other side of the ice, Firkus has good positioning and puck control. He reads the ice well and has good two-way awareness. However, the 5-10, 151-pound forward lacks size and needs to add strength. In addition, he can improve his skating and become more engaged physically, and those are things that come with more development.
🎥HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT🎥
— The WHL (@TheWHL) May 11, 2022
Then, of course, also comes the question of maintaining consistency. After an 80-point breakout season, Firkus needs to show that he can continue to put up those totals. Given his skill set and ability, as well as his drive and determination, it’s unlikely that he’ll take a step back and that he will only continue to improve. His draft stock has risen as he has continued to excel, and he has plenty of upside.
When it comes to Washington’s needs, a forward and right-handed shot makes sense. The Capitals are currently facing a number of questions with regard to their top-6 and right-wing depth with Tom Wilson expected to be out long-term to open the season. T.J. Oshie and Conor Sheary currently lead the way on that depth chart, and though Anthony Mantha can play RW, he is a left-hand shot who also has to strike a balance and find consistency. Beyond that, the team needs more high-scoring right wingers in the system, and Firkus can provide that and some skill going forward.