In keeping with my historical attempts to deflect the fact that I know nothing about this year's draft, I stumbled upon ESPN.com and found something (gasp!) passing for hockey coverage - a list of the best and worst picks in NHL history, active and all time. I doubt anyone will be surprised to see that the Caps appear on this list and not in a good way...and if you are surprised, well...you must be new around here. Welcome to DC.
Here is what they call one of the five worst value picks of all time:
• Alexandre Volchkov, RW, Washington, 1996, (fourth overall): The 1996 draft wasn't a great one, but as it turned out, there were better choices than Volchkov. The Capitals could have gone after "too-small" center Daniel Briere, who was selected by Phoenix with the 24th pick. Volchkov played three NHL games before returning to Russia to finish his professional career.
I'm not going to question the total bust that was Volchkov's stint here in DC. But come on, was little Danielle really the only example they could have picked out? What about Ruslan Salei? Marco Sturm? Marty Reasoner? Zdeno freaking Chara? Danielle's teammate (for now, at least) and former Cap Dainius Zubrus?
Hey, how about Jaroslav "Yogi" Svejkov-...oh, wait. They did pick him. 1996 was a rough year for the Caps.
If you don't believe me, look who else we picked: Jan Bulis (aw, poor Buli) and a slew of household names - Sergei Zimakov, David Weninger, Shawn McNeil, Justin Davis, Matt Lahey, A.J. Van Bruggen, Mike Anderson, Oleg Orekhovsky, and Chad Cavanagh. For these superstars we passed over Tomas Kaberle, Willie Mitchell, Fernando Pisani and our boy Kiwi, all taken in the 8th round.
The Caps' odd relationship with the 1996 draft class gets better, too:
- Who remembers Alexei Tezikov? Drafted 115th overall by Buffalo who 3 years later pawned him off on us for, get this: Joe Juneau. Next they'll try and sell us the Brooklyn Bridge. Or Jiri Novotny. Oops.
- Josef Boumedienne, our newest, ahem, "Boomer"-ang (these are the jokes, guys)? Drafted 91st overall by the Devils.
- Here's a blast from the past, what about #216, Ivan Ciernik - we picked him up off of waivers from Ottawa, he scored a few goals, and last I heard he was somewhere over in Germany.
- Oh, and let's not forget the man drafted 70th overall, the man for whom the term "Cap-killer" was invented, Jon Sim. How many games against the Flyers, Panthers and Thrashers would the Caps have won with him on the side of good instead of evil? Okay, still probably not that many, but the scores would have been lower.
Incidentally the Caps also have ties with another of the worst picks on ESPN's list, this time among active players (and I'm guessing they're using the term 'active' loosely) - good ol' RRRRico Fata himself, taken 6th overall in 1998. Poor Suavé.
I won't go into the 1998 draft in too much depth because it has to be hands-down one of the worst drafts in Caps history. Forget the fact that Washington didn't pick until the 49th spot when they chose Jomar Cruz (Jo-who? Exactly.) Let's just say that only three of the Caps illustrious selections even dressed in a game for Washington, and that's about all they did. Dress.
Boy, Caps history is sprinkled with fun, isn't it?