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Washington Capitals Entry Drafts: 1996

Ottawa chose blueliner Chris Phillips with the first overall pick; he became the third straight defenseman taken first in the draft. The trend continued as 13 of the 26 players chosen in the first round were defensemen.

The Caps had two first-round picks, three in the first 43, and seven picks in the first 85. Yet in retrospect, they came up virtually empty with the exception of second round center Jan Bulis. Only the top three of Washington's dozen choices ever played in the NHL and only Bulis had a reasonably prosperous career.

The smiles didn't last long

Power winger Alexander Volchkov was taken with the fourth overall choice, a pick obtained from Los Angeles a year earlier in the deal for Dmitri Khristich and Byron Dafoe. The Volchkov pick turned into a complete disaster; he played fewer NHL games (three) than any other fourth overall pick in the modern draft era (since 1969). Among other fourth overall picks over the years: Rick MacLeish, Steve Shutt, Lanny McDonald, Clark Gillies, Mike Gartner, Larry Murphy, Ron Francis, Steve Yzerman, Paul Kariya and Roberto Luongo.

Jaroslav "Yogi" Svejkovsky was chosen with the 17th overall pick. He showed flashes of brilliance and scored four goals in a game as a 20-year-old in the final regular season game of the 1996-97 season. He failed to earn a regular spot in Washington and was later shuttled to Tampa Bay in exchange for a pair of draft picks.

Other first rounders in 1996 include J-P Dumont (third overall), Ruslan Salei (ninth), Derek Morris (13th), Dainius Zubrus (15th), Marco Sturm (21st) and Daniel Briere (24th).

Notables taken later in the proceedings include Cory Sarich (27th), Matt Cullen (35th), Colin White (49th), Zdeno Chara (56th), Tom Poti (59th), Mark Parrish (79th), Toni Lydman (89th), Matt Bradley (102nd), Michal Rozsival (105th), Sami Pahlsson (176th), Pavel Kubina (179th), Willie Mitchell (199th), Tomas Kaberle (204th) and Sami Salo (239th). Only two players were chosen after Salo.

Hindsight is 20/20: Overall, this was a fairly thin pool of talent. But oddly, many later members of the Caps' organization came from the 1996 draft class. So if the team had just chosen some of these players with its original picks, it could have spared itself some of the paperwork and negotiations needed to bring them to DC later. Here's the list: Zubrus, Josh Green (30th), Remi Royer (31st), Chris Hajt (32nd), Jeff Paul (42nd), Francois Methot (54th), Poti, Boyd Kane (72nd), Josef Boumedienne (91st), Trent Whitfield (100th), Bradley, Alexei Tezikov (115th), Brian Willsie (146th), Joel Kwiatkowski (194th), Andrej Podkonicky (196th) and Ivan Ciernik (216th).

NO. PLAYER POS. COMMENT

4

Alexander Volchkov
C
One of the biggest busts ever among top five picks. Played three NHL games and was out of hockey at the age of 25.

17

Jaroslav Svejkovsky
RW
Traded to Tampa Bay in January of 2000, had 23 goals in 113 NHL games and 52 goals in 72 minor league games. Pro career ended by concussion before he turned 25.

43

Jan Bulis
C
Traded to Montreal in 2001,had 96 goals in 552 NHL games. Now playing in Russia.

58

Sergei Zimakov
D
Has never played North American pro hockey. Active in Russia as late as 2006-07.

74

David Weninger
G
Michigan Tech product played 31 games in his only pro season (AHL, ECHL). Later a goalie coach at St. Cloud St.

78

Shawn McNeil
C
Played four years pro, mostly in ECHL. Active in Germany as late as 2007-08.

85

Justin Davis
RW
Played junior hockey in OHL, spent five seasons playing at U. of Western Ontario, played in Europe as late as 2005-06.
126
Matt Lahey
LW
Played one partial season in the pros with Columbus of ECHL in 1998-99.
153
Andrew Van Bruggen
RW
Two years at Northern Mich. Univ. and one year of junior hockey. Never played pro.
180
Michael Anderson
RW
University of Minnesota product never turned pro.

206

Oleg Orekhovsky
D
Played for Moscow Dynamo in his native Russia; chosen by Minnesota in 2000 expansion draft. Still active in Russia as late as 2007-08

232

Chad Cavanagh
LW
Played four pro seasons and four at Acadia University. Played in Europe as late as 2006-07.

 

 
 
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