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Capitals Select Gustafsson, Carlson in First Round of NHL Draft

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals selected two players – center Anton Gustafsson and defenseman John Carlson – in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, held Friday evening at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. Washington acquired the picks used to draft Gustafsson (No. 21) and Carlson (No. 27) in two separate draft-day trades.

Gustafsson, a 6’2”, 194-pound native of Karlskoga, Sweden, is the son of former Capitals star Bengt Gustafsson, who ranks fifth all-time in scoring for the club (555 career points) in 629 games from 1979-89. Anton, 18, was the fifth-rated European skater in the draft according to NHL Central Scouting and has spent two seasons with the Frolunda junior team in Sweden. He recorded 15 goals and 17 assists (32 points) in 33 games of an injury-shortened season in 2007-08.
“Anton is a highly skilled player with strong puckhandling skills and playmaking ability,” NHL director of European scouting Goran Stubb said. “He is an effective passer through traffic who also has a good selection of shots. He’s a tall, strong and talented two-way center with good vision and a fine understanding of the game. He plays a mature game even when playing against opponents who were two or three years older.”
Carlson is a 6’2”, 212-pound 18-year-old who was born in Natick, Mass., and resides in Colonia, N.J. A rookie in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Indiana Ice in 2007-08, Carlson finished second among league defensemen in scoring with 43 points (12 goals, 31 assists) in 59 games. He played in the 2008 USHL All-Star Game and was an assistant captain on the U.S. team at the 2007 Under-18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Carlson was the 17th-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.
John Carlson is a big burly defensemen, he is a real good skater and a strong skater,” said Jack Barzee of NHL Central Scouting. “He runs the power-play from the top of the umbrella and he has a very heavy shot.  He's a very self-assured kid and rightfully so – he's a boy, yet in a man’s body and very physically strong ... I knew when I first saw him that he was a first-round pick. He was a guy I had seen before as an under-ager. He had all the tools – size, skill, physical presence and charisma.”
The Capitals acquired the 21st selection, used to take Gustafsson, from New Jersey in exchange for the Capitals' 1st-round pick in 2008 (23rd overall) and 2nd-round pick in 2008 (54th overall). Washington acquired the 27th selection, used to take Carlson, from Philadelphia in exchange for defenseman Steve Eminger and the Capitals’ third-round pick in 2008 (84th overall).
Washington has now made 15 first-round picks in the last seven years, four more than any other NHL team.
The Capitals enter Saturday’s proceedings – featuring rounds two through seven of the draft – with six selections: two in the second round (Nos. 57 and 58), and one each in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds (Nos. 93, 144, 174 and 204).

Washington Capitals 2008 NHL Entry Draft Picks
Rd.        No.                        Name        Pos.  Ht.        Wt.         Shoots                   Birthday Birthplace       Amateur Team
1    21    Anton Gustafsson  C       6’2”  194   L           2/25/90   Karlskoga, Swe.     Frolunda Jr. (Swe.-Jr.)
1    27    John Carlson          D      6’2”  212   R           1/10/90   Natick, Mass.         Indiana (USHL)
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