- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 24, 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Washington Capitals continued a recent trend of selecting defensemen early in the draft while also accomplishing their goal of adding more picks to use in 2008.

A day after taking Karl Alzner with the fifth overall selection, the Caps added two more defensemen in the second round. Washington took Josh Godfrey from Sault St. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League with the 34th pick and Ted Ruth of the United States National Team Development Program 46th overall.

“To get the top three guys where we got them we were really pleased,” Washington general manager George McPhee said. “We got three really good defensemen.”

The Caps have selected 14 defensemen in the last four years, including eight in the first two rounds.

The 6-foot, 197-pound Godfrey was draft eligible last June but went unselected. He was invited to the Caps’ summer development camp in Hershey and showed up but was unable to participate because of an injury.

After piling up 24 goals and 57 points this regular season, and adding another nine goals in 13 playoff games, Godfrey ranked 141st among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

“He’s got just a bomb of a shot,” McPhee said.

Godfrey — who given his low ranking had considered not making the trip from Kingston, Ontario, to be at Nationwide Arena — was selected along with Alzner to represent his home country in the Canada/Russia Super Series. The teams will comprise U-20 players and will play eight games — similar to the famous Summit Series in 1972.

“I was kind of surprised about [making the team],” Godfrey said. “I had my eye on it and thought there would be a chance, but it’s definitely exciting to play for Team Canada.”

Ruth, a 6-foot-1, 199-pound Naperville, Ill., native, had five goals and 16 points in 39 games for the USNTDP U-18 team. He was part of the U.S. national team that won a silver medal in the 2007 U-18 World Championship.

He was the fourth defenseman selected from the program in Ann Arbor, Mich. Ruth will play for Notre Dame, which is coached by Jeff Jackson, the original coach of the USNTDP.

“I am more of a defensive defenseman,” Ruth said. “I like the physical [play]. I’m kind of gritty.”

In the weeks leading up to this event, there was a consensus that the 2007 crop might be below average. But the class of 2008 could rival some of the greatest in draft history. With 10 picks in this draft at his disposal, McPhee set out to acquire more 2008 selections. He still drafted 10 players this weekend, but added three picks for next year.

McPhee’s made his first move Friday night, trading Washington’s No. 28 pick to San Jose for the 41st pick and a second-rounder in 2008. He made two more deals of that ilk yesterday, sending the 41st pick to Philadelphia for a third-rounder (No. 84, center Phil DeSimone from Sioux City of the United States Hockey League) and the Flyers” second-round selection in 2008.

Later McPhee’s dealt the 95th pick to Los Angeles for No. 154 (Dan Dunn, a 6-foot-5 goaltender from Wellington of the Ontario Junior Provincial Hockey League) and a fourth-round pick in 2008.

“It is an exceptional draft if we don’t trade the picks before next summer,” McPhee said. “We have three second-round picks in what is supposed to be a terrific draft. That was part of the thinking, but we also have ammunition that we can use in trades.”

Ruth was the first of three straight Americans for the Caps. Of the team’s 10 selections, all are from North America, split evenly between the United States and Canada. It should be noted there are no Russians in the group, despite plenty of pre-draft rumors suggesting the Caps might take a Russian player.

“I think everyone in this draft thought we were taking Russians because we’ve got Alex [Ovechkin],” McPhee said. “There was a lot of buzz that we were going to take [Alexei] Cherepanov, and it was because of that buzz we got the guy we wanted.

“I know there was a club behind us that wanted to trade up to four [Los Angeles’ pick] to get Alzner. Because we kept our mouths shut and let everyone believe we were taking Cherepanov, the trade didn’t happen, and then we got our guy.”

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