In preparation for the 2023-24 season, Washington Hockey Now staff have compiled a list of the top 10 Washington Capitals prospects. The final rankings are based on the research and discussions of WHN staff.
No. 6: Andrew Cristall, LW
Age: 18; Ht-Wt: 5-9, 175; Shoots: Left; Drafted: 2nd round, 2023.
Ross Mahoney sat and watched Day 2 of the 2023 NHL Draft unfold, patiently awaiting the Capitals’ pick at No. 40 overall.
But as prospects trickled off the board, Andrew Cristall — who the Capitals viewed as a first-round talent — fell into the team’s lap.
“He’s not the biggest guy, obviously he needs to — like a lot of guys his age — get stronger and do a lot of work in the gym to get himself a little bit stronger on his skates,” Mahoney, the Capitals assistant general manager, said at the draft. “But [a] really, really good player.”
Cristall has been praised for his high hockey IQ, which he effectively translates it onto the ice. His puck-handling skills are impressive, and combined with an above average shot make him a dynamic option in the offensive zone.
Last season, Cristall led the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets with 95 points — 39 goals, 56 assists. He finished sixth-best in the league, tied with former No. 9 overall pick Matthew Savoie of the Buffalo Sabres.
“I’m always on the puck,” Cristall said. “I feel like when I’m at the top of my game I always have the puck on my stick and I’m making plays and I can find the right spots to either make a pass or take a shot and score.”
Cristall finds himself within a deep pool of left wing prospects, each looking to potentially replace 37-year-old Alex Ovechkin when he decides to retire. The team selected Ivan Miroshnichenko with the No. 20 pick in 2022, while Alexander Suzdalev — WHN’s No. 8 Capitals prospect — is expected to join the organization this season.
Where Is He Playing This Year?
Cristall will play his fourth season with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Despite signing an entry-level contract with the Capitals in July, an agreement between the CHL and NHL prevents CHL prospects from jumping to the AHL and ECHL unless they are 20-years old or have played four seasons in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.