PITTSBURGH – Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee said that selecting Filip Forsberg in the first round (11th overall) of the NHL Draft Friday was a no- brainer.
“At the (draft) table the scouts were unanimous (saying) we have to take this guy,” McPhee said after using his first selection on a Swede for the fourth time in seven years. “So I tried to give them other options just to play devil’s advocate but it was an easy (decision).”
McPhee admitted that the Caps were surprised to see Forsberg drop to them at No. 11. The 17-year-old from Ostervala, Sweden, was the No. 2 rated prospect by The Hockey News and the No. 4 ranked prospect by the International Scouting Service.
Forsberg had eight goals and 17 points in 43 games last season with Leksands of the Swedish Elite League. He is said to be a smart two-way forward with the physical tools to play in the NHL.
“I’m kind of a big player and I try to play physical,” Forsberg said. “I also like taking the puck to the net as often as possible so I guess that’s a little bit more of a North American style of game than a European style of game so hopefully I can bring that with me when the time is (right) for me to come over.”
Forsberg has one year remaining on his current contract in Sweden and could find himself in the NHL by the 2013-14 season. If that were the case, it would be a similar path taken by countrymen Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson who spent an extra year in Sweden before joining the Capitals.
With their second pick in the first round (16th overall), the Capitals added size and physicality in the form of 6-foot-4-inch, 205-pound Thomas Wilson.
“He’s a tough kid,” McPhee said. “It’s going to take a lot of work to get him where we need him, but he plays hard, he plays tough.”
Wilson had nine goals and 27 points in 49 games with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers. He also had 141 penalty minutes and is said to be one the hardest hitters in the league.
“What we liked about him is that he scored before he got to junior. He was on a midget team in Toronto and scored (38) goals for a team that won the championship,” McPhee said. “He’s been on Team Canada clubs overseas and in the playoffs this year with a couple of guys hurt, he was moved up in the lineup and responded with seven goals (in 13 games) so there’s a chance he can be a pretty good player.”
Wilson has never been to Washington, but says that he is familiar with the organization and even had an Alex Ovechkin sweater when he was younger. Like Ovechkin, Wilson does not shy away from contact.
“I’m a big power forward, I create space for linemates, I like the physicality, I don’t shy away from it and I think I’ve got some offensive potential to come in the next few years.”