On February 4, 2000 the Capitals finally cut bait with former first round draft choice Alexandre Volchkov, sending him to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a fourth round choice in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
The talented but enigmatic Volchkov was the fourth player chosen overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. Washington obtained that pick from the Los Angeles Kings along with a fourth-round choice in exchange for goaltender Byron Dafoe and winger Dmitri Khristich.
The Ottawa Senators chose defenseman Chris Phillips with the first overall choice in '96. San Jose followed by taking defenseman Andrei Zyuzin. The New York Islanders reportedly thought about choosing Volchkov, but opted for forward J-P Dumont instead. Washington then took Volchkov with the fourth choice. The Caps later took winger Jaroslav Svejkovsky with their second pick (17th overall) in the first round.
Volchkov was the Capitals' first top-five draft pick since 1982, when they chose Scott Stevens with the fifth overall choice.
Volchkov, who was a prolific scorer during his junior hockey days with the OHL's Barrie Colts, managed only six goals and 22 points in 86 games over his first two pro seasons. During Washington's 1999 training camp, Volchkov finally began to exhibit some of the skill and passion the Capitals hoped to see when they drafted him. Volchkov nearly made the club that season, but was eventually sent back to Portland of the AHL.
The Capitals recalled Volchkov soon after the start of the 1999-2000 season and he made his NHL debut in a 2-2 tie with the Coyotes in Phoenix on October 23. He appeared in two more games, failed to impress and was returned to Portland shortly thereafter.
Volchkov had his best season as a pro that year, totaling 11 goals and 26 points in 35 games with Portland before the trade to Edmonton. Volchkov added just two goals and eight points in 25 games with Hamilton - the Oilers' top AHL affiliate - after the trade that made him Edmonton's property. Volchkov returned to his native Russia for the 2000-01 season, collecting only two goals and four points in 24 games with two different clubs.
Volchkov's NHL career consisted of three games, one shot on goal and a minus-two defensive rating.
Excluding players taken in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Volchkov's three-game NHL career is the shortest of any player ever chosen in the top four of the Entry Draft (since the draft took on its current form in 1969).