Between listening to trade offers and monitoring which players get selected where, Caps general manager George McPhee will have his hands full at Sunday’s NHL draft at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. [3 p.m., NBC Sports Network].
That’s why, when it’s time for the Capitals to make their choice with the 23rd pick of the first round, McPhee will turn to Ross Mahoney, the Caps’ director of amateur scouting for the past 14 years.
Earlier today we took a look at some of the forwards who might be available when the Caps pick at No. 23, a slot where they unearthed goaltender Semyon Varlamov in 2006. Other notable picks at No. 23 include defenseman Andrej Meszaros [Ottawa, 2004], forward Ryan Kesler [Vancouver, 2003] and former Caps forward Scott Hannan [San Jose, 1997].
Here’s a look at five defensemen who might be available for the Caps when they step to the PrudentialCenter podium:
Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon [WHL]: Many scouting agencies rank Pulock as the sixth-best defenseman in the draft, mostly because he’s got a shot that’s been clocked at higher than 101 mph. Pulock came into the Western League as a center and has the offensive skills to override the fact he’s 6-foot, 211 pounds. Pulock also has excellent vision, good strength, and could be a power-play quarterback in the NHL.
Mirco Mueller, D, Everett [WHL]: A native of Winterthur, Switzerland, Mueller finished second behind top defensive prospect Seth Jones in scoring among Western League defensemen with six goals and 25 assists in 63 games. He was also a minus-10. At a slender 173 pounds, NHL scouts are hoping Mueller can add some beef to his 6-foot-3 frame and be a solid two-way defenseman in a few years.
Josh Morrissey, D, Prince Albert [WHL]: One of the smallest defensemen expected to be taken in the first round, Morrissey stands 6-foot, 186 pounds, but his offensive instincts and his skating ability set him apart from most of his counterparts. Morrissey recorded 15 goals and 32 assists in 70 games for Prince Albert and played with an edge, piling up with 91 penalty minutes.
Robert Hagg, D, Modo [Sweden]: If the Caps are looking for an intimidating big banger on the blue line, they may turn to Hagg, who has earned a reputation as an aggressor in the corners and in front of the net. At 6-foot-2 193 pounds, Haggs has plenty to work with but, like most defensemen, probably will need at least two years of development before cracking an NHL lineup.
Shea Theodore, D, Seattle [WHL]: It’s a nice crop of defensemen coming out of the Western League this year and Theodore is no exception. He’s still only 17 years old and has a lot of growing to do at 6-foot-2, 178 pounds, but Theodore’s skating has been compared to Caps defenseman Mike Green, who was taken by the Caps with the 29th pick in 2004. Theodore put up 19 goals and 31 assists this season, but was a minus-24.