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Caps Retain Three '09 Draftees

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
The Capitals announced today that they’ve retained the rights of three 2009 draft picks by tendering bona fide offers prior to the June 1 deadline. At the same time, the Capitals have relinquished the rights to four other players drafted over the last several summers.

Defensemen Dmitri Orlov and Brett Flemming and right wing Garrett Mitchell were the recipients of the bona fide offers. Orlov was chosen in the second round (55th overall), Flemming in the fifth round (145th overall) and Mitchell in the sixth round (175th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The Capitals have not signed the three players, they’ve merely retained their rights.

The Capitals have already signed two 2009 draft picks - centers Marcus Johansson and Cody Eakin - and retain the rights to defenseman Patrick Wey while he remains in college at Boston College.

Orlov opened the eyes of several observers at last July’s summer development camp. He played in Russia’s KHL last season, putting up four goals, seven points and 49 PIM in 41 games with Novokuznetsk.

“We were really pleased when we drafted him,” says McPhee of Orlov, “and we continue to be really pleased in what we have in this player. He is a real good young man, has good character and personality, and he sure has a lot of talent.”

Flemming skated with Mississauga of the OHL last season, scoring a goal and totaling 24 points and 90 PIM in 68 games.

“There is something about that player that intrigues us,” says McPhee of Flemming. “He is a smart player. And when you’re a smart player you usually adapt and adjust to your environment and to what’s required. He may be one of those guys who can do a lot of different things, play the wing, play defense, lug the puck, defend. There is something about him that we like, and we’re happy we drafted him and we just hope that he continues to develop.”

Mitchell dipped a toe in the professional waters when he got into a single game with the AHL Hershey Bears late in the 2009-10 regular season. Prior to that, he had 15 goals, 31 points and 110 PIM in 57 games with Regina of the WHL.

“He’s a very competitive kid,” says McPhee of Mitchell. “He’s very good along the boards; gets pucks in, gets them out. He has good jump and very good strength in his legs. We like the way that he’s coming along and hope he continues to improve over the next year.”

Flemming and Mitchell both spent some time practicing with the Bears late in the 2009-10 season after the conclusion of their respective junior hockey campaigns.

Washington will not retain the rights of defenseman Oscar Hedman (fifth round, 132nd overall in 2004), blueliner Eric Mestery (second round, 57th overall in 2008), center Joel Broda (fifth round, 144th overall in 2008) and Benjamin Casavant (seventh round, 20th overall in 2009). Hedman becomes a free agent while the other three players will return to the pool of eligible players for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Drafting and developing talent is paramount in the modern NHL, but it is also important to keep some organizational space available for in-season transactions, trades and additions. Clubs are permitted a maximum of 50 players under contract at any given time.

“When you’re living in the [salary] cap world as we are now, drafting and developing is more critical than ever,” states McPhee. “You want to make sure that you have flexibility with contracts to keep the young players that you’ve drafted and to give other opportunities to young players who were maybe never drafted but are showing you something now. You want to make sure that you have enough contracts that you can sign those players and retain their rights because everyone in this league is being aggressive with young players.”

McPhee just returned from the NHL’s annual scouting combine in Toronto. The Capitals hold the 26th overall choice in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and they have five picks overall at the 2010 draft, which will be held in Los Angeles on June 25-26.

“You’re still just trying to find the best players, the most talented players,” says McPhee. “I just think we’ve gotten better at it. I don’t think the philopspohy has changed as much as our scouts are an experienced group now. We’ve done well late in the first round drafting Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Semyon Varlamov, Marcus Johansson, John Carlson and Anton Gustafsson. We’ll continue to take the best player who is sitting there, and we’ve just done a better job of determining who the best player is.”
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