The NHL Draft starts Friday with the first round, and the Washington Capitals own their highest pick since 2015 at 25th overall. There’s reason to be excited for Caps fans despite the late-ish pick. Both John Carlson (27th overall) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (26th) were drafted in the late first round. I decided to take a look at who the mock drafts predict will become the next Capital.
Bobby Brink – LW, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
Picked by: Craig Button (TSN)
My favorite mock draft has the Caps taking the guy who is probably my favorite realistic option at 25th overall. Brink led the United States Hockey League in points per game at 1.58 and was named forward of the year despite missing 12 games with a broken ankle (he played on that broken ankle at the World Junior A Championships and scored the winning goal in the gold medal game, though).
At 5-feet 8-inches and 165 pounds, Brink isn’t a physical presence, and unlike most elite players his size, he doesn’t make up for it with exceptional skating. In fact, his skating is remarkably poor for such a highly touted prospect. But his hockey IQ is off the charts, and he has the skill to execute what he sees in his mind. Few players have the combination of playmaking and finishing ability that Brink displays. He compares himself to Mitch Marner, and it’s an apt comparison. Brink is headed for the University of Denver next season, an elite hockey power and breeding ground for NHL talent where he’ll develop well.
I suspect there are teams ahead of the Caps who’d love to have Brink. But if he does fall to 25th and the Caps pull the trigger, fans should be thrilled at the offensive potential added to the system.
Nick Robertson – C, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Picked by: Corey Pronman (The Athletic)
This is a bit of a reach for Robertson, who’s spent most of the year as a projected second round pick (but trended into the late first round recently for many). He has the potential to be an exciting offensive player in the NHL, and the Caps can afford to take a risk on a player who may take some time to develop given their depth at the NHL level.
Robertson is creative and skilled with great vision, hands, and shooting ability. He led the Petes in points with 55 in 54 games. Like Brink, he’s a small prospect at 5-feet 9-inches and 170 pounds. His skating is fine, but nobody will mistake him for the best skater in the draft class. He also gets extra points for the ability to play center.
The Caps need prospects with offensive upside, and Robertson fits that bill. Though 25th might be a bit high for them to take him, it wouldn’t be a bad pick at all, especially if other forwards (like Brink) are already off the board.
Samuel Poulin – RW, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
Picked by: Mike Morreale (NHL.com), Guillame Lepage (NHL.com)
Poulin, like Robertson, is an offensive-minded forward who most have as a late first or early second round prospect. He’s considerably bigger than Brink or Robertson at 6-feet 2-inches and over 200 pounds, and he knows how to use his size to his advantage, meaning he has power forward potential in the NHL.
Poulin led Sherbrooke with 76 points in 67 games and had the seventh highest points per game of anyone in the QMJHL playoffs at 1.40. His best attribute is his shot, which he likes to take a lot, for good reason. He served as a captain for the Phoenix and is lauded by his coach for his professionalism and work ethic.
Poulin may not be their first choice, but the Caps could do worse than a 6’2” power forward who can score and possesses leadership qualities and a high work ethic.