Capitals' risk-taking via draft has paid off
In 1996, a Russian winger named Alexandre Volchkov gave NHL GMs fits. On one hand, there was "no doubt" Volchkov was the most talented played in the draft, a scout told the Toronto Sun. But the scout added: "You don't hear a lot of good things about Volchkov. Yes, he has size, can shoot and skate. But he is self-centered and very arrogant."
So which team gambled on Volchkov with the fourth pick? The Washington Capitals, of course.
It's not surprising, because in the past 20 years the Capitals have had an interesting draft strategy: stockpile draft picks and take huge risks. They failed miserably on the Volchkov pick and also with fellow Russian Alexander Kharlamov two years earlier. But stockpiling picks has allowed them to take these risks, while still keeping a steady flow of talent to their NHL club. In the salary cap era, this has been invaluable.
Let's contrast that with another team that has stockpiled first-round picks: the Edmonton Oilers. They've had 27 first-rounders since 1990, with a similar distribution of value throughout the first round.
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