As team after team used their picks on defensemen in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Washington Capitals finally came up to the podium with Filip Forsberg, Mikhail Grigorenko, Radek Faksa, and Olli Maata still available for the taking. Prior to the draft, it seemed impossible that such highly-rated players would still be up for grabs at the No. 11 spot, but it left the Capitals with a wealth of very talented options.
With the No. 11 pick (from Colorado in the Semyon Varlamov trade), the Capitals decided to go Swedish. Forward Filip Forsberg — originally ranked as the No. 1 European skater by the CSS, No. 4 by the ISS, No. 2 by The Hockey News and No. 3 by TSN — greeted Capitals general manager George McPhee on stage, where he was handed a red jersey.
Forsberg (as Joe Beninati would say, no relation to legend Peter) is an absolute steal at No. 11, after the previous seven teams in the draft order opted for defensemen and forwards saw their stock start to fall. Forsberg is an incredibly versatile forward with the ability to play both wings as well as center. He’s a two-way forward who could stand to put on some weight, but he has the frame (6’2″) to potentially become a large defensive forward.
Forsberg arguably plays his strongest game in the defensive zone, but his numbers on offense weren’t very impressive in the past year in Sweden’s Tier II professional league. However, he made a splash with scouts at last summer’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (U-17), scoring four goals in five games. Some scouts say his past season’s statistics should not be indicative of his talent — he has a very strong, accurate shot, is a very good skater, and possesses great hockey sense.
Erika Schnure is a Contributor to District Sports Page, specializing in Washington Capitals prospects. She has been a hockey writer since 2010.