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Matthew Speck The Hockey Writers

Published on Sunday, June 28, 2015





Washington Capitals Restock Defense Pipeline at Draft

The Washington Capitals made a franchise altering splash last July in free agency, signing free agents Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen to long-term deals. The contracts were not cheap at all, but helped assemble one of Washington’s best blue lines over the past decade. GM Brian MacLellan and the Capitals scouting staff added three defensmen to their system Saturday afternoon, following their selection of goaltender Ilya Samsonov in the first round Friday night in Florida.

The Capitals selected Jonas Siegenthaler (57th), Connor Hobbs (143rd) and Colby Williams (173rd), where they dealt picks 62 and 113 so they could draft Siegenthaler in the late second round, a player Washington envisioned getting drafted Friday night. The deal left MacLellan and the Caps with zero picks in the third and fourth round and they wouldn’t make another deal the remainder of the afternoon.

Washington’s system boasts two impact defensemen in Madison Bowey and Connor Carrick, but the depth on defense throughout the system was shrinking. Drafting three blue liners will help give Washington a few more defensemen to develop, in hopes of them playing a role down the line in the next five years.

Caps Trade Up for Siegenthaler

“We obviously take the best player available to us, but all things being equal, I was really happy that we had an opportunity to put a little more young defensemen in the system,” Capitals assistant general manager Ross Mahoney told The Washington Post. “I was very happy with that.”

“Siegenthaler, 18, was ranked 12th overall among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting. The 6’2”, 220-pound defenseman registered three assists in 41 games with the Zurich Lions of the Swiss League in 2014-15 and led the team in penalty minutes (39). In 2012-13, Siegenthaler registered 14 points (2g, 12a) in 34 games for Zurich’s junior team to win the Swiss Elite Jr. A Championship and also helped the under-17 team to a title with two assists in five postseason contests.” – Capitals PR

Siegenthaler has different parts of his game that make him an intriguing defensive prospect. First off, his size as an 18-year-old is favorable to numerous clubs, along with his skating ability. That combination is lethal in today’s NHL where immobile defensemen such as Nicklas Grossmann and Brooks Orpik are often taken to task by shiftier and quicker opponents.

The Swiss born blue liner has one year remaining on his contract with Zurich and is expected to turn pro after that, where he’ll presumably suit up for the Hershey Bears in the AHL. There has been no indication on whether Siegenthaler will attend Washington’s development camp this summer.

Caps Add Regina Alums to System

Washington selected two Regina Pats defensemen in the fifth and sixth rounds, giving the club four prospects in their system that have played for Regina. Capitals forward prospects Chandler Stephenson and Garrett Mitchell both played for the Pats during their time in the Western Hockey League, who are now coached by John Paddock.

Connor Hobbs (Credit: Keith Hershmiller)

Connor Hobbs (Credit: Keith Hershmiller)

Hobbs was ranked 92nd by the International Scouting Service and has been defined as a mobile skater who can do a lot of things efficiently. There is still room for Hobbs to fill out his frame, as he’s just under 190 pounds and he has time to do that before turning pro. There’s obvious room for development, and Hobbs has enough upside to warrant his selection.

“Williams, 20, has spent the last five seasons (2010-15) with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL). The 5’11”, 191-pound defenseman earned career-highs in goals (11), assists (30), points (41) and penalty minutes (95) in 64 games with Regina last season. Williams ranked second on the team in penalty minutes and tied for fifth in assists. In 192 games with the Pats, Williams has registered 92 points (20g, 72a) and 249 penalty minutes.” – Capitals PR

Colby Williams is another right-handed defenseman like Hobbs whose ceiling is on the last pairing of the blue line. Mahoney stated that the Capitals had targeted Williams in previous drafts and the Caps are surely satisfied he dropped to them with their final pick in the 2015 draft. At 20, Williams could sign his entry-level contract with Washington and begin his professional career in the minors this fall.

With the draft complete, Washington turns their attention to the days leading up to free agency. GM Brian MacLellan hopes he can lock up their restricted free agents including Marcus Johansson and Braden Holtby prior to July 1st, so they have a clear picture of their salary structure prior to signing any free agents for the 2015-16 season.

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