- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 27, 2004

RALEIGH, N.C. — If having the right genes matters, the Washington Capitals might have picked a winner early in the second round of yesterday’s NHL Entry Draft.

The Caps took 18-year-old Chris Bourque with the 33rd pick, surprising many by selecting the Massachusetts high school student that high. Bourque is the son of Raymond Bourque, the Boston and Colorado defenseman who had a brilliant 22-year career in the NHL and enters the Hall of Fame in November.

Bourque was one of seven youngsters tapped by the Caps yesterday. Besides Bourque and Alexander Ovechkin, taken with the top pick, the team selected:

• Jeff Schultz, a 6-foot-6, 212-pound defenseman from Calgary in the Western Hockey League, 27th;

• Mike Green, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound defenseman from Saskatoon in the WHL, 29th;

• Mikhail Yunkov, a 6-foot, 180-pound center from Krylja, Russia, 62nd;

• Sami Lepisto, a 6-foot, 180-pound defenseman from Jokerit, Finland, 66th;

• Clayton Barthel, a 6-foot-2, 205 defenseman from Seattle in the WHL, 88th after the Caps obtained that pick from Dallas for a third-round selection next season.

Because of the name connection, Bourque was of primary interest. He is a left-handed center who has just graduated from Cushing Academy, a prep school in Belmont, Mass., and will enter Boston University this fall. He is small, 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, but had 37 goals and 90 points in 31 games for Cushing last season and spent 90 minutes in the penalty box.

“He’s a good skater, very strong on his skates,” said Ross Mahoney, the Caps chief scout. “He’s very smart and has excellent hands.”

Mahoney neglected to mention that Bourque has something of a nasty streak — something his father did not display unless severely provoked — that has occasionally landed him in trouble. There was mention that he is similar to fiery Dino Ciccarelli, a former Caps forward who was small in stature but troublesome to opponents.

“Chris tries to play bigger than he is,” one scout said yesterday. “He may be small, but he tries not to let anything get in his way.”

He is also independent, knowing who his famous father is but insisting on being himself.

“Not too many people are going to live up to the Ray Bourque name,” the younger Bourque acknowledged. “If I have just one-half the career he had, it would still be a great career. I’m not looking to be my dad, I’m my own person. I’m Chris Bourque, I’m going to do my best.”

Said his dad: “He’s followed me around since he was 2 years old, going to practices, All-Star games, awards functions. This is something he’s wanted for a long time. Now he’s got a foot in the door.”

All the Caps’ selections were ranked although there was little agreement outside the top few players. Bourque, for instance, was ranked 74th in one report and 170th in another. Defenseman Green was rated 18th but fell to 29th where Washington found him.

The draft continues today with rounds four through nine.

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