Capitals organizational depth chart for each position ahead of 2022 NHL Entry Draft


It’s said every year just before the NHL Draft, but the plan often quickly deviates from the rails. Washington Capitals management meets with the media before each draft and is always asked about their strategy and goal for the draft. The answer has always been ‘we’ll take the best player available’.

The strategy is solid. Taking the best player available, regardless of position, adds the greatest player equity to the bottom line of the organization, whether or not there is an organizational need in that position. For example, you might need a right-handed defender, but if the best right-handed defender available is just average in the draft, you better take another (better) player in another position, even if you’re deeply organizational at this level. position.

While their strategy is sound, it’s often apparent that players are indeed selected based on the needs of the organization, whether or not there is an overall best player available in another position. A prime example can be seen in the Capitals 2021 Draft.

The Capitals used their first two draft picks to select right-handed defensemen, a position the Capitals were extremely shallow at. (Vincent Iorio, second round, #55 overall, and Brent Johnson, third round, #80 overall).

Either way, it’s helpful for the management and for the fans to understand what the team really needs. The best way to do this is to take a look at the organizational depth chart.

WHAT DO WE NEED?

The first step, before sketching, is to take a “big picture” view of the organization in order to identify potential weak spots, or shallow depths, in a position. The following table provides a current high-level overview of each skater (not goalie) position, prior to the 2022 NHL Draft. [Click to enlarge].

Definition and caveats

The graph above assumes that some free agents will not be re-signed this offseason (Michal Kempny, Justin Schultz, Matt Irwin, Marcus Johansson and Johan Larsson). It’s certainly possible the Capitals will re-sign one or more of the players (Larsson, Irwin). Additionally, the table does not include the Capitals’ current long-term injuries (Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson), to better identify current needs.

Also, the chart does not include likely elevations for some prospects. For example, there’s a very good chance that Brett Leason and Aliaksei Protas could see a spot on the roster on opening night this fall. The purpose of this table is to provide an overview of the organization before the draft and before training camp.

Also, the graph does not include potential free agent departures for certain prospects (Shane Gersich, Brian Pinho, etc.). If they decide to leave, it could still change position depth (needs) at certain positions.

Finally, the table does not include other positions that players are potentially capable of playing. For example, Aliaksei Protas could play left wing, Garrett Pilon could play center, etc.). The intention was to place each player in their first (natural) position.

Initial assessment

The Capitals currently have three forward vacancies and three blue line vacancies. Again, it is very possible that one or two prospects will be high to meet these immediate needs, but the current lack of depth should be considered before the draft.

At first glance, there is a glaring overall lack of organizational depth on the left side up front. Again, there are players who could go for cover (Connor McMichael, Aliaksei Protas, etc.), but when it comes to normal (natural) positions, the Capitals are shallow at left wing. Looks for the Capitals to eventually meet that need in the draft, if they abandon the “best player available” philosophy.

Capitals are also rather shallow in the middle, organizationally. There are older veterans in place, but as far as the “big picture” goes, the Capitals need to fortify the central position.

Finally, with the departure of Tobias Geisser and the long-term injury of Alex Alexeyev, the once extremely deep left side of the blue line suddenly needs additional reinforcements. Expect the Capitals to meet that need in the upcoming draft as well.

2nd step

Now that the organizational “needs” have been identified, we can now begin to look at ways to meet the identified needs. In my next article (Part 2), I will look at some of the potential draft goals best suited to meet the aforementioned organizational needs.

By Jon Sorensen

Aubrey L. Morgan