Looking back at the Capitals’ 2015 NHL Draft: There is a lot riding on Ilya Samsonov

J.J. Regan
NBC Sports Washington
The success of Washington's 2015 draft will depend almost entirely on whether goalie Ilya Samsonov can live up to expectations.
The success of Washington's 2015 draft will depend almost entirely on whether goalie Ilya Samsonov can live up to expectations.

Looking back at the Capitals 2015 NHL Draft: There is a lot riding on Ilya Samsonov originally appeared on nbcsportswashington.com

The NHL Draft takes place on June 21 and 22. The Capitals hold the 25th overall pick and will be looking for future stars among all the hopeful prospects.

But just how successful has Washington been in finding those stars? How much value have the Caps found through the draft?

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NBC Sports Washington will be looking at how Washington has drafted over the last 10 years. Today's draft: 2015

22nd overall pick (first round): Ilya Samsonov G

The Caps made Samsonov the first goalie taken in the draft by taking him 22nd overall. He was the only goalie to go in the first round.

It is really hard to predict what will happen with goalies in the draft. For such important players, they are hard to project and a lot of teams elect to take fliers on late-round goalies rather than bet the farm with a high pick. Braden Holtby, for example, was a fourth-round pick. Washington, however, rolled the dice and went with Samsonov in the first round.

Samsonov's numbers in the KHL were brilliant. His first season in North America got off to a rocky start in Hershey, but he played much better as the season went along and was dominant in the regular season by the end.

With Holtby entering the final year of his contract, this is a big year for Samsonov as well as he needs to prove he can take over as Washington's starter by 2020. If not, the Caps are going to have to make a difficult decision regarding his future with the organization.

52nd overall pick (second round): Traded

The Caps traded this pick to the Calgary Flames for forward Curtis Glencross. Glencross was a rental who played 28 total games for Washington in the 2014-15 season and 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. He seemed like a good fit in the regular season with seven points, but his production disappeared in the playoffs where he tallied only one goal in 10 games. That season ended up being the final season of his NHL career.

The Flames traded this pick to the Boston Bruins as part of a package that netted them defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Boston would select defenseman Jeremy Lauzon with the pick. Lauzon played in 16 games with the Bruins last season.

57th overall pick (second round): Jonas Siegenthaler D

The Caps traded up in the second round to snag Siegenthaler, giving up their own fourth-round pick and a third-round pick from the Buffalo Sabres that they acquired at the 2015 trade deadline.

Siegenthaler is a big-bodied, stay at home defenseman in the mold of Brooks Orpik, but is more mobile and a better puck-mover. He went back and forth between the AHL and NHL last season. When he finally got a chance to get into the lineup in the playoffs, it took just one game before he was put on the top pair next to John Carlson.

62nd overall pick (third round): Acquired, traded

Washington acquired this pick at the 2014 trade deadline from the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo received Michal Neuvirth and Rostislav Klesla, who was acquired the day before. The Caps received Jaroslav Halak and the pick. Washington then traded this pick away to the New York Rangers to move up and grab Siegenthaler.

New York used the pick to select forward Robin Kovacs. Kovacs played the 2016-17 season in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack, but the Rangers terminated his contract prior to the 2017-18 season. He has been playing in the SHL ever since.

83rd overall pick (third round): Traded

The Caps traded this pick to Calgary as part of the Glencross deal. Calgary traded the pick to the Arizona Coyotes who selected forward Jens Looke. Looke spent the past two seasons in the AHL and signed a contract in May to return to play for Timra IK in his native Sweden. His NHL prospects look dim at this point.

93rd overall pick (fourth round): Acquired, traded

The Caps acquired this pick from the Arizona Coyotes at the 2014 trade deadline. They packaged it along with defenseman Jack Hillen to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Tim Gleason.

Gleason was a rental with a limited role who did not pan out. He averaged just 13:08 per game in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Washington.

Carolina did not fare much better in the trade as Hillen played only three games as a Hurricane. As for the pick, Carolina selected goalie Callum Booth who has been primarily an ECHL goalie since turning pro in 2017.

113th overall pick (fourth round): Traded

This was the second pick the Caps gave the Rangers to move up and take Siegenthaler. New York used the pick to select forward Brad Morrison. The Rangers no longer own Morrison's rights.

143rd overall pick (fifth round): Connor Hobbs D

Hobbs was known as an offensive defenseman in the WHL with the Regina Pats. In his final season in juniors, he recorded 31 goals and 54 assists in 67 games. He has spent the past two seasons with the Hershey Bears where he has improved his defensive skill tremendously. The offense has tapered off, however, as it has been difficult for him to find the same kind of space in the AHL as he had to work with in the WHL.

Hobbs has a tremendous slap shot and you could see him being a third-pair NHL defenseman and power play specialist on the point if he can find his offense at the professional level.

173rd overall pick (sixth round): Colby Williams D

The Caps took Hobbs' Regina teammate Williams in the following round. Williams is a very smooth skater. That is about the only part of his game that is NHL caliber and he looks at this point to be an AHL player.

203rd overall pick (seventh round): Traded

This pick was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in June 2014. Winnipeg took forward Matteo Gennaro. He was signed to an AHL contract the Tucson Roadrunners and in 2018-19, his first professional season, played in 58 AHL games.

Takeaways

The success of this draft will be dependent on Samsonov, obviously. If the Caps found their next starter who can take over for Holtby, great. With the Seattle expansion draft looming, however, Washington will need to know by the end of the 2019-20 season if Samsonov is ready to take over. Otherwise, the team would be put into a position where it may have to overpay to keep Holtby who is on the final year of his contract and trade Samsonov.

This draft is also a good reminder of why it always makes sense to move up if there is a player you like. The Caps gave up a third and a fourth-round pick to New York to take their pick and select Siegenthaler. Washington got an NHL defenseman out of the deal, the Rangers got squat with their two extra picks.

If a team sees NHL potential in a player and all it will take to move up in the draft are two mid-round picks, take the deal.

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