NHL Draft 2012: What It Means for the Future of the Washington Capitals

Jake WareCorrespondent IIIJune 23, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22:  Filip Forsberg, 11th overall pick by the Washington Capitals, poses on stage during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The 2012 NHL entry draft is over, and, given everything that has transpired over the past 36 hours, the Washington Capitals have to be considered immense draft winners.

After acquiring center Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for prospect Cody Eakin and the 54th overall pick, the Caps went on to steal Swedish winger Filip Forsberg at 11th overall; draft Tom Wilson at 16th; and get Chandler Stephenson at No. 77, Thomas Di Pauli at No. 100, Austin Wuthrich at No. 107, Connor Carrick with the 137th pick, Riley Barber with the 167th, Christian Djoos at No. 195, Jaynen Rissling at No. 195, and Sergei Kostenko at No. 203.

The Caps ended up making 10 picks in the draft, more than any other NHL team.

First and foremost Filip Forsberg will serve to revolutionize the Caps prospect pool and roster. A consensus top-three pick in most mock drafts, Forsberg was the top-ranked European skater by Central Scouting and was undoubtedly one of the premier prospects in the draft.

A physical two-way goalscorer, Forsberg will lock down the right-wing spot on the Caps' first line for the next 15 years and could play himself into a role alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Bäcktröm as soon as 2013-14.

Tom Wilson, a hard-nosed right-winger who stands at almost 6'4", will serve to become a third-line anchor for the Capitals down the road. He has scoring upside, is solid in his own zone and will add some much-needed grit to the Caps crops of forward.

Chandler Stephenson, Austin Wuthrich and Riley Barber are dynamic wingers who, if developed well, could become solid second-liners for the Caps.

Thomas Di Pauli, unlike the other two, is a center, but he has similar potential.

In Connor Carrick and Chrisian Djoos, Washington found two solid two-way defensemen with great offensive upside. Both of them are project picks but have the potential to be very good offensive blueliners at the NHL level.

Jaynen Rissling, who stands at 6'4" and weighs 223 pounds, projects as a more defensive option.

Sergei Kostenko will add depth to a goaltending prospect group which already boasts Brandon Anderson, Philipp Grubauer and Steffen Søberg.

According to Katie Carrera of The Washington Post, the Caps have been tracking the Russian goalie for three years and certainly like what they see in him.

Mike Ribeiro, the 32-year-old center who carries a cap hit of $5 million but is a free agent at the end of the season, will solve the Caps' second-line center hole. In 74 games for the Stars last season, Ribeiro scored 18 goals and recorded 45 assists for 63 points, putting the talents he will be bringing to the Verizon Center next season on full display on a nightly basis.

Through the draft, the Caps have, in essence, drastically brightened their Stanley Cup prospects. With a superstar player like Forsberg and elite role players like Wilson arriving to the team, the future looks a whole lot more promising.

The prize jewel of the draft is obviously Forsberg, who could eventually be seen as one of the decade's biggest draft steals. Alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov, Forsberg will ensure that the Caps forward group is replenished with elite talent in a few years' time.

The Swedish winger is, simply put, a fantastic player who will significantly improve the team and undoubtedly play a major role in bringing DC its first Stanley Cup somewhere down the road. 

General manager George McPhee's next task is to find a premier head coach to teach Filip Forsberg how to play the North American game.

If he does, given how well the 17-year-old Forsberg could complement the rest of the Caps roster, the Washington Capitals could bring home a Stanley Cup sooner rather than later.