The Capitals had a disappointing end to a very exciting season as they were bounced from the pursuit of Lord Stanley's Cup by the eventual winners from Pittsburgh in the second round. Washington set the pace for the league by scoring 120 regular season points while capturing the President's cup as the Metropolitan Division champs. It was a fantastic season for a team that showed just how well rounded it is by securing a +59 goal differential on the season to lead the league by a wide margin. To have the season end without a Cup was certainly a disappointment after the torrid season, and leaves the Capitals hungry for more and another chance to prove they are the top team in the league.
As the team is in win-now mode, it could be expected that the prospect pool may be a bit thin, but Washington still has some very high-potential prospects in the pipeline that span most positions. They are particularly deep in net, where they already sport one of the game's best netminders in Braden Holtby. However, they took Ilya Samsonov at #22 overall in last year's draft to shore up the position. The 18 year old will play this season in the KHL and is a few years away from breaking into the NHL, but looks to be a force when he does. The Caps also have a couple of high profile names at RW in Jakub Vrana and Stanislav Galiev. Vrana was the Caps' top pick in 2014 and will spend this season in the AHL. Galiev got a cup of tea in Washington this year and scored 2 points in 2 games with the big club. Rounding out the top prospects are defensemen Madison Bowey and Connor Carrick. Bowey is a John Carlson prototype player and should find his way to the NHL very soon. Carrick will battle for a roster spot this season after putting 34 games under his belt in 2013-14.
The pool is particularly weak on the left wing and down the middle, where the Capitals have a glut of seemingly role players and lack a game breaker. This is one of the occasions where choosing the best available player meets the needs of the team , and the Capitals select Center Brett Howden of Moose Jaw of the WHL.
About Brett Howden
Howden isn't known for being a flashy player, but has built his career on maturity and consistency. His hockey sense carries him a long way in combination with his adequate size of 6'1" and 193 lbs to fulfill a power forward role. He is strong on the faceoff dot and has a good shot, though earns criticism for not shooting enough. He likely forecasts in a bottom-6 role, but has a very strong chance to be an NHL regular. He scored 64 points in 68 games last season in the WHL, but needs to develop his physical edge and defensive reliability. Here's some highlights:
How He'd Fit With The Wild
Bowden would bring further depth to a pivot prospect pool that already includes Tyler Graovac, Zach Dalpe and Grayson Downing. Though he wouldn't provide much splash, and depth down the middle is a net positive for the Wild who need to move Charlie Coyle and Mikhael Granlund to the wing on a permanent basis. He would have a decent shot to be a member of the Wild in a few years as some aging forwards move on and youngsters move up the roster.