The 2012 NHL Entry Draft is now just three days away.
After months of speculation, armchair general managing, mock drafting, hoping and wishing, the most exciting day of the year for many hockey fans is fast approaching.
This draft figures to be especially important for the Washington Capitals, who, without a coach and two of their stars players in Mike Green and Alexander Semin potentially on the way out, appear to be entering a new era.
The Caps hold 11 picks in the draft, among them the 11th overall pick (acquired along with a second-rounder from the Colorado Avalanche for Semyon Varlamov) and the 16th overall pick in the first round.
This Bleacher Report 7-Round NHL Mock Draft has the Caps picking Radek Faksa at 11th overall and Hampus Lindholm at 16th.
Here is a closer look at three areas the Caps might specifically look to improve through the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
After finishing in the top 10 of the NHL in goalscoring in each of the three seasons from 2007 to 2010, the Washington Capitals have struggled to score recently, finishing outside the top 14 two years running.
With Alex Ovechkin continuing to struggle and Alexander Semin seemingly on his way out of the District, the Caps could look to add major goalscoring help through the draft.
Rarely is it easy to find scorers through the draft, especially outside the top-10 picks, but fortunately, this draft has a number of potential elite goal-getters. Among them are Swedes Sebastian Collberg, likely available at 11, and Pontus Åberg, who could be around at 16, as well as Finn Teuvo Teravainen and Czech Martin Frk, all of whom could very well end up at the Verizon Center.
The Washington Capitals have not drafted a blueliner in the first round since John Carlson in 2008, and while Garrett Haar, Tomas Kundratek, Cam Schilling and Patrick Wey are solid NHL prospects, they are not locks.
The Caps could use locks.
With Dmitry Orlov graduating to the NHL, the Caps lack any sort of bluechip prospect at the NHL-level.
For a long time this draft has been seen as a deep draft for defensemen, and the Caps could take advantage. The likes of Cody Ceci, Hampus Lindholm, Griffin Reinhart and Jacob Trouba could all be available when the Caps pick 11th.
Many will argue that the Caps' need for a second-line center is bad enough that the team must address it through trade or free agency, but the truth is that for such a long-term need, the draft is really the only way to go.
At both 11th and 16th overall, there are a number of options the Caps could pursue.
For example, the Caps could look to pick up Czech center Radek Faksa, from the OHL's Kitchener Rangers. He is the seventh-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting, and his size and two-way game would be well suited to the Caps. Other options include Brendan Gaunce, Zemgus Girgensons, Mikhail Grigorenko and Tomas Hertl
Regardless of who George McPhee and the Caps choose, the bottom line is that the team must add a second-line center and the draft is the place to do it.