PITTSBURGH | It took a while, and even commissioner Gary Bettman implored: “Washington, you’re on the clock. Let’s go.” But eventually the Capitals made the 11th pick in the NHL draft, taking Swedish center Filip Forsberg.
Forsberg was rated as the top European skater in the draft and was once considered a possibility to go in the top three.
“We didn’t expect Forsberg to be there at all. So we were delighted to be able to take him, because in most mock drafts we had done and where our scouts had him was way up high,” general manager George McPhee said. “Sometimes that happens in a draft; a good player falls because everybody’s sort of zoned in on a certain guy and people were going after defensemen and drafted a lot of good defensemen. So we focused on mostly defensemen. So when we got there, we thought, ‘Geez, we’ve got to switch gears here a little bit; this guy’s a really good player, let’s take him.’ “
Forsberg had eight goals and nine assists in 43 games last season. Head of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr likened Forsberg’s game to Brendan Shanahan, saying it was easier to compare him to North American players than Europeans.
“I’m kind of big-sized player and trying to play a bit physical and also taking the puck to the net as often as possible. I guess that’s a big more North American style of game than European,” Forsberg said. “Hopefully I can bring that with me when the time is ready for me to come over.”
That won’t be for at least one more season, as the 17-year-old will finish out the final year on his contract with Leksands IF of the junior league in Sweden.
“That’s my plan for next year. Then I’m not sure,” he said. “We’ll see. Hopefully I can have a good season and then everything can happen.”