The Capitals' hockey operations crew arrived in Nashville last weekend, holding five picks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft here in Music City. By the time the draft floor dust settled at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday afternoon, the Caps had added half a dozen new prospects to their growing stable of young talents. That extra pick came late in the day when Washington dealt its seventh-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft to the San Jose Sharks for the second of the Sharks' two choices in the seventh round, pick No. 206 overall.

Here's how day two of the 2023 NHL Draft played out for the Capitals.

With their second-round choice in the 2023 Draft, the Caps drafted another scoring winger. A night after taking right wing Ryan Leonard with the eighth overall choice in the draft, Washington opted for left wing Andrew Cristall with its second-round pick, the 40th overall choice.

Cristall is a native of Burnaby, B.C. who led the Kelowna Rockets in scoring as a 17-year-old in 2022-23, putting up 39 goals and 95 points in just 54 games for Kelowna, where ex-Caps winger Quintin Laing serves as an assistant coach. Cristall just missed out on the top 10 in goals and assists in the WHL last season, but he finished tied for sixth in the circuit in scoring despite missing 14 games with a lower body ailment.

Cristall turned 18 in February, and he stands 5-foot-10 and tips the scales at 175 pounds. He played 14 games for the Rockets as a 15-year-old, and he broke out with 28 goals and 69 points in 61 games with Kelowna as a 16-year-old in 2021-22.

"Highly intelligent player," says Caps assistant general manager Ross Mahoney of Cristall. "Really, really good vision. Good hands, unselfish. Big contributor offensively. He put up huge points on not the greatest team in the Western Hockey League, as far as talent. They were kind of a younger team. So yeah, a big point producer. He played for Canada's Hlinka [Tournament] team in the summer, and played again with the Under-18 team in the World Championships. But a really offensive player, really smart, and like I said, good hands. And he shares the puck really well."

Known as a dazzling stickhandler and puck handler with a great deal of offensive talent, Cristall's self-evaluation on his Central Scouting Service questionnaire is "goal scorer," and he names Toronto's Mitch Marner as an NHL comparable. Cristall goes on to write: "I am hardworking, competitive and creative. I am a determined team player who will do whatever it takes to win. My greatest strengths as a player are my hockey IQ, my hands, and my scoring touch."

As for the areas in which Cristall needs to improve, he assesses: "I need to improve my defensive awareness and my skating."

Cristall chatted with media minutes after hearing his name called by the Caps in Nashville.

"It feels unbelievable," he says. "To finally hear my name called and to be able to walk out there and put a jersey on, it's really special. I couldn't be happier with Washington, so I'm really excited.

"I'd say I'm a highly skilled offensive player. I can produce at a high rate. I like to bring people out of their seats, and most importantly win hockey games, so that's the kind of player I am."

Some had Cristall ranked in the teens; Red Line Report ranked him 14th overall, and McKeen's Hockey had him at 25. He obviously has a great deal of offensive ability, and he is also reported to be a wizard with the puck.

"I think at first I was just kind of watching guys in the league play," says Cristall of his work with the puck on his stick. "I'm kind of a student of the game and I've always loved to watch, so part of it comes from that, but I think it's just repetition for me. I always love to get on the ice and in my backyard and stickhandle and shoot pucks. I think that at a young age I always just kind of got into it. I just loved the game. And that's kind of where it started."

"For me, I'm always on the puck. I feel like when I'm at the top of my game, I always have the puck on my stick and I'm making plays. I can always find the right spot to either make a pass or take a shot and score."

In chatting with media, Cristall again brought up Marner's name among those who've influenced him over the years, but also tossed out a couple of others, including one very familiar to fans back home.

"There's a couple guys that I watch," says Cristall. "[Nikita] Kucherov and Mitch Marner are two big guys I watch. They're super, super skilled. Growing up, Nick Backstrom - obviously a Capital - but obviously his playmaking ability is pretty unbelievable. Those three guys are definitely a few that I watched growing up."

Washington's next choice was in the fourth round with the 104th overall pick. With that selection, the Caps went for forward Patrick Thomas of Hamilton of the OHL. Thomas is a natural center who moved to the wing in 2022-23, his second draft eligible season. Thomas played on a line with Nick Kardis, one of the fastest players in the 2023 Draft, a player who went to Chicago with pick No. 67 in the third round.

"Good hands, smart player, needs to get stronger for sure," says Mahoney of Thomas, who was not present in Nashville for the draft. "He's got really good offensive instincts."

Thomas improved from a 6-21-27 stat line in 64 games in 2021-22 to 17-39-56 in 66 games in 2022-23.

"Probably a little more confidence and getting an opportunity to play more," says Mahoney when asked about Thomas' improvement last season. "Hamilton had a very good team the year before; they won the Memorial Cup. Having him in Hamilton this year, some of those players departed and moved on to professional hockey, so I think it created more opportunities for him this year for him to be there and to be able to get ice time."

Thomas describes himself as a playmaker and lists Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as an NHL comparable.

Washington's pick in the fifth round is an intriguing one that may have some upside. Right-handed defenseman Cam Allen heard his name called by the Caps when Washington's turn came at pick No. 136. At this time last year, many observers thought Allen might be a first- or second-round selection in the 2023 Draft, but after a strong rookie season in which he totaled 13 goals and 37 points in 65 games for Guelph of the OHL, Allen struggled from the outset of his sophomore campaign.

Ranked 12th among North American defensemen and 46th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, the right-handed blueliner fell to five goals and 25 points in 62 games in 2022-23, and he dipped from a plus-13 to a minus-22 as well. Allen was thrilled and relieved to hear his name called by the Caps, and he seems to have a handle on what may have led to his downfall in his second season at Guelph.

"It's surreal, really," he says. "Just sitting there, waiting for the name to be called and then to be drafted to the Capitals, there's no better feeling, really. I'm thrilled.

"It's a lot of emotions really, almost like a sigh of relief to be honest. It's nice to have my name called and to know that I can move on from here and have the draft out of the way. I'm so happy to have ended up in Washington. I couldn't be happier, really."

At 6-foot-0 and 192 pounds, Allen has decent size. He is also a good skater and leader; he captained the Team Canada entry at last summer's Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament. Allen is a physical player and he clearly has some offensive ability as well. He believes he put too much pressure on himself at times during his draft year, and he has been taking steps to remedy the issue.

"I struggled a little bit with some consistency this past season," Allen states. "I think it's a big mental thing for me and it's something that I've continuously worked on and I look forward to working on it more. I think that's going to be something that can really help me round out my game and have a consistent performance every night.

"I think it's just finding that pocket where you are mentally when you're playing your best, and then staying within that pocket and not letting too many things within the game put you to places that aren't going to allow you to perform to your best, or to your highest potential. It's going into each game with the same mindset, and having a routine is important for that as well. But I've done some work already and have continued to have success this season."

Allen has the physical attributes, and he has enough offensive creativity to see time on the power play, so he is an intriguing selection for Washington in the fifth round.

"Cam had a really good underage year," says Mahoney. "I think probably this year wasn't as good as he wanted it to be, and maybe that's why he slid back a little bit. But you're looking a guy who was captain of Canada's Hlinka team and was captain again of Canada's Under-18 team at the World Championship. He's a very, very competitive guy, so to get him where we got him - for me, he had a chance of going a couple of rounds higher.

"Sometimes when your year doesn't go the way you want it to, as compared to your underage year, maybe you slide a little bit in the draft. I think that's probably the case with Cam."

"I'd say I'm a two-way defenseman," assesses Allen. "I play with a bit of an edge. I think my competitive drive is something that drives my game and allows me to make an impact on the game in all areas. So I'd say I'm a 200-foot defenseman, I play with an edge, I use my skating to my advantage as well; I think that's my biggest strength."

With pick No. 200 in the seventh round, the Capitals chose center Brett Hyland from Brandon of the WHL. A 20-year-old, third-year eligible skater, Hyland is eligible to turn pro this fall. He put up better than a point per game (26 goals and 47 points in 42 games) for the Wheat Kings in 2022-23.

"The [Capitals' scouts] out west - Ryan Marble and Darrell Baumgartner - they had liked him before," says Mahoney of Hyland. "It wasn't as if we didn't have him on our radar before, but you can't draft everybody. They really liked his effort. He's a hard-working guy, a good skater.

"So I think [the scouts] were pretty excited. He's not the same type of player, but they talked about him the same way they talked about Ryan Hofer [Washington's sixth-round pick in 2022] last year, as a guy they'd really like to get later in the draft. And that's what you're looking for from your area scouts, that they're getting excited somebody later in the draft."

Hyland stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 188 pounds. He describes himself as a two-way forward, and lists Matthew Tkachuk as an NHL comparable.

That Hyland pick should have done it for the Caps, but Mahoney had one more player he wanted to bring home, a goaltender. General manager Brian MacLellan swung a deal for a seventh-rounder from San Jose at pick No. 206, and Mahoney and company took goaltender Antoine Keller, an 18-year-old from Dijon, France, the lone European player in Washington's draft haul this summer.

Keller is a lanky 6-foot-3, 176 pounds, and he plays for Geneve-Servette's U-20 team in Switzerland. He also got into five games with HCV Martigny on a loan basis, and he excelled for France at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U-20 World Championship Division I, Group A. Keller is just the second French-born goaltender to be chosen in an NHL Draft, following in the skate steps of former Caps goaltender Cristobal Huet. Huet was a seventh-round choice (214th overall) of the Los Angeles Kings at the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.

Keller describes himself as a hybrid butterfly goalie, lists mobility, agility and hands as his strengths, and names Ilya Sorokin as an NHL comparable.

"I'm really excited about Antoine Keller," exudes Mahoney. "He is very interesting. He is actually French; he played for the French national team and we saw him play in the Under-20 Tournament before Christmas; not the top, the [second division]. And the year before we also saw him and had interest in him. He kind of came on our radar then, and I'm really curious to see where he's going to be in a few years.

"Darrel Baumgartner is our scout in Western Canada, but he's also our goalie scout, and he liked him a lot. [Caps' goaltending coach Scott Murray] also liked him a lot. We always give our goalie coaches and our American League goalie coaches some names and we get their opinion on them, and I know Scotty signed off on him also; we talked to him before we made the pick, and then after the pick, he was pretty excited about it also."

That's a wrap from Nashville, but do stay tuned for much more in the days ahead. Washington's annual summer development camp runs from Saturday through Wednesday this week, and the NHL's annual free agent shopping emporium opens its doors for business on Saturday at noon.