The 2022 NHL Draft is just eight days away, and TSN’s Bob McKenzie’s final rankings are out. This year’s pool features a number of highly-touted North American and International skaters, and the Washington Capitals will have a lot to consider at No. 20. And, now one name has dropped to 20th that may be of major interest: left winger Isaac Howard.
Another product of the U.S. National Team Development Camp Program, Howard had a standout draft year that put him high on the radar. In 60 games with the USNTDP U18 team, he dished 33 goals and 49 assists for 82 points. He also posted 11 goals and 26 assists in 27 USHL games with the USNTDP Juniors, and in the U18 World Junior Championship, he had six goals and five assists in just six games.
Looking at his skill set, the 5-10, 181-pound winger is an excellent two-way player who is a natural goal scorer. He has great speed and a wicked, accurate shot that can trick goalies and help him score from anywhere. Howard also has great vision and can make smart passes and plays on the fly, and also uses his hockey IQ and speed to get to those high-danger areas and create chances. A lot of his speed also comes from his crossover ability.
MOVE ⬅️ SHOOT ➡️
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) April 8, 2021
READ MORE ON WHN: Can Mantha Gain A Step, Expand Role With Capitals In Year 2?
Despite his size, Howard also plays a decent defensive game and isn’t afraid to battle for the puck or show grit. He has great positioning and can keep up with his opponents, and he can also win those battles in the neutral zone. Howard can also take good care of the puck and is still improving his all-around game. He does need to be a bit more responsible in his own end and could stand to work on strength and skating, but that comes with time and experience.
Ultimately, there’s a lot of upside for him, as he does have the potential to even be the next Cole Caufield.
When it comes to his fit with the Capitals, he could be a good asset to have in the system. Washington needs more secondary scoring and a player who can bring that pure goal-scoring — and still developing playmaking — the ability to the table in the years to come, especially with Alex Ovechkin and the core aging and questions surrounding Nicklas Backstrom’s return to the NHL.
Howard isn’t the only top USNTDP player up for grabs. Frank Nazar and Jimmy Snuggerud are also a couple of fellow teammates of his to watch. Still, if Howard does fall to No. 20, the Capitals wouldn’t go wrong taking a forward, especially after going defense-heavy in 2021.