By Leslie Silvey
The 2011 NHL Draft took place Friday, June 24, as throngs of nervous youngsters and their friends and families (along with hordes on enthusiastic fans) packed the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis. Hockey fans and media alike watched to see which highly-touted players would go in the first round and in what order – a nerve-racking ordeal for the young players for sure (just ask Cam Fowler of Anaheim who was projected for selection in the top five last year but was still sitting in wait until the twelfth pick.)
The first six picks in the first round went to players hailing from either Canada or Sweden. Meanwhile, the Capitals decided to forego their first round pick (they were slated for the 26th pick) in order to make a surprising trade and add gritty winger Troy Brouwer – a former member of the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks who’s not afraid to use his 6 ‘3” frame. It’s no secret that Washington’s farm system is chock-full of young talent and this Draft Day trade made a statement on the team’s commitment to achieving success in the playoffs.
After GM George McPhee masterminded the Brouwer trade, it was slow going for the Caps’ staff in attendance in Minnesota. They had to wait until Saturday to make any further selections after giving up the first round pick. The Capitals didn’t make another selection until the fourth round, when they drafted yet another net minder in the form of Norweigan-born Steffen Soberg. The fifth round saw the selection of defenseman Patrick Koudys, who is currently honing his skills in the college ranks at Rensselaer (R.P.I.). The Caps picked up U.S. National Team Development Program center Travis Boyd in the sixth round and drafted another defenseman, Garrett Haar, in the seventh round. While it’s exciting to watch these youngsters get called to the podium and don a Capitals sweater (if only for a few minutes), most of them are years away from playing with the big club. The 2011 Draft was an overall success for the Caps, as they not only added a player who can make big contributions here and now, they added even more insurance to the success of the team for years to come with this year’s selections.