Aiden Fink, Andrew Cristall, Axel Sandin Pellikka, Matteo Fabrizi, NHL Entry Draft, Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals 2023 Mock Draft

The Washington Capitals go into the 2023 NHL Entry Draft holding five selections through seven rounds. They don’t have a third or sixth-round pick this year, so they will have to make the most of it with their selections. I can see the Capitals attempting to trade up to grab someone better in the top five, but assuming they are unable to do so, they will still have a stud available at eighth overall.

While there will likely be a number of draft day trades, this mock assumes none have occurred. Here are the selections the Capitals could make in Nashville on June 28 and 29.

First Round – 8th Overall: Axel Sandin Pellikka, RD, Skelleftea AIK (SHL)

Axel Sandin Pellikka is my personal favorite defensive prospect in this draft class. His offensive upside combined with his overall skating ability make him an exciting prospect that plenty of teams will consider taking in the top ten. He is an elite defender that projects to be a top-four defenseman at the NHL level and has even drawn comparisons to current NHL defenseman Tyson Barrie.

Axel Sandin Pellikka Team Sweden
Axel Sandin Pellikka, Team Sweden (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Pellikka may end up being one of the top defensemen to come out of this stacked draft class. His speed and shot make him an entertaining player to watch and while he’ll need to work on cleaning up his two-way game, his ceiling is that of a future star in the making. This should be a no-brainer for the Capitals at eighth overall.

Second Round – 40th Overall: Andrew Cristall, LW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

With the 40th overall selection, the Capitals take a falling Andrew Cristall. His offensive output with the Kelowna Rockets this season boosted his draft stock in a big way. After scoring 39 goals and adding 56 assists, he finished with over a point per game through 54 games and was granted the opportunity to represent Canada at the Under-18 World Championship, where he scored two goals and four assists through seven games.

Andrew Cristall Kelowna Rockets
Andrew Cristall, Kelowna Rockets (Steve Dunsmoor/Kelowna Rockets)

“He may be undersized, but he is truly one of the most talented playmakers in junior hockey already. There are passing lanes that most players would never see developing, and Cristall has the passing precision to pick them apart.”

Tony Ferrari – The Hockey News (Ferrari’s Mid-Season Top 50 Rankings)

With Cristall expected to slip in the draft, the Capitals should have no issues taking him at 40th overall. Any other year, he ends up being a first-round selection, but with this draft class being one of the deepest in recent memory, they’ll be happy to add a potential top-six forward in the second round.

Fourth Round – 104th Overall: Aiden Fink, RW, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)

With no selections in the third round, the Capitals look into a league that’s gaining more spotlight in recent years for their star players in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) and take Aiden Fink from the Brooks Bandits. He is committed to Penn State University for the 2023-24 season and will have a chance to elevate his offensive game to a new level while improving his game at the defensive end.

Related: Capitals 2023 Free Agent Targets: Oliver Ekman-Larsson

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Fink finished the season with the Bandits scoring 41 goals (second in the AJHL) and adding 56 assists (fourth in the AJHL) for 97 points (first in the AJHL) through 54 games. Our very own Logan Horn draws a comparison between Fink and Jonathan Marchessault or Conor Garland, as smaller speedy wingers who use their speed to find a way to the net.

Fifth Round – 136th Overall: Matteo Fabrizi, LD, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

The Caps go back to the Western Hockey League (WHL) for a second time and take Matteo Fabrizi. He is a huge body at 6-foot-5, 234 pounds who could be a real steal near the end of the draft. If he is available when they select in the fifth round, they should be all over him. He is a shutdown defenseman that put up 12 points through 67 games in the 2022-23 season.

While he hasn’t gained much attention as a prospect, he stands out as one of the bigger players in the entire draft, and a team could take a chance on him becoming a shutdown physical defenseman similar to the Edmonton Oilers’ Vincent Desharnais.

Seventh Round – 200th Overall: Kalle Kangas, LD, Jokerit (U20 SM-Sarja)

The Capitals select their third defenseman of the draft with a slipping Kalle Kangas. At 6-foot-4, 196 pounds, he could be an exciting project for the Caps to watch overseas and see if he’s able to translate his game to the pro level.

Last season, Kangas scored one goal and added eight assists for nine points through 42 games and represented Finland at the U18 World Championship where he had two assists through five games. His two-way game is solid, but he’ll fall in the draft as it’s just not as strong as his peers.

Capitals Stacking Up Prospect Pool

These picks will give the Capitals an immediately strengthened prospect pool. While they are seen to have one of the weaker pools in the NHL currently, one good draft could shoot them up on some people’s lists. There is going to be a ton of talent to choose from, but these are the picks I’d try to make if those players are available at each selection. Their need for defensemen is taken care of with the three they took, while Cristall and Fink bolster the forward depth chart for years to come.

2023 NHL Entry Draft Guide Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli Banner

Make sure to stay tuned to The Hockey Writers for all your pre-and post-draft day coverage as the next group of future stars gets drafted into the NHL.

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