Forward Ryan Walter took much of the same path with the Capitals as fellow first-round draft pick, defenseman Rick Green. Two years after Green was drafted by Washington with the first-overall pick in the 1976 draft, Walter was made the second-overall pick by the Capitals in 1978. He kicked off a draft where the team has 19 selections to make - more than its combined total in the past two years.
Much like Green, Walter was signed to a multiyear contract immediately after he was drafted. The 20-year-old center had captained the Canadian team in the World Junior Tournament and was considered to be "the type of hockey player with the leadership qualities [the Capitals] were looking for," according to the team's chief scout, Red Sullivan.
And Walter demonstrated those leadership qualities immediately. After rehabbing a preseason knee injury, he stepped on the ice for the first time as a Capital Oct. 25 at Chicago. And from that moment on, he was a fan favorite.
He finished his rookie season with 28 goals and 28 assists in 69 games, placing him fifth on the team in scoring. He was also the runner up for the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year and captured the Capitals' rookie of the year award.
His impressive rookie season made quite an impact on the coaching staff and his teammates as Walter was named captain before the 1979-80 season began. The youngest team captain in NHL history, Walter continued to impress during his sophomore season. He was the team's top goal-scorer during the season's first half and finished with the second most points on the team, only two fewer than future Hall-of-Famer Mike Gartner.
Walter was named the team's MVP after setting career highs in assists with 45 and points, 69, in 1980-81. By this, his third year in the league, Walter was establishing himself as a force around the NHL.
A three-time MVP with Philadelphia and current Flyers' general manager Bobby Clarke had this to say about his divisional opponent: "When you play against Ryan Walter, you know you're in for a night's work."
But as quickly as Walter established himself among the Capitals, he would be traded away from the squad.
Walter was traded, along with Rick Green, just before the start of the 1982-83 season to Montreal for defensemen Rod Langway and Brian Engblom and forwards Doug Jarvis and Craig Laughlin.
After his first season with Montreal, Walter could never quite establish himself as he had with Washington. He retired after the 1991-92 season after recording 264 goals and 382 assists in 1,003 career games.