24 April, 2014

A Family Affair in '08 First Round

In his very first interaction with Washington media, Anton Gustafsson Friday night was asked to compare his game with that of his father’s.
“I think I’m better,” he said. “I’m a better skater, I have a better shot.”
Capitals’ fans can only dream that the son is right, and if he is¬†they’re in for an extraordinary joy ride.¬†Anton’s father Bengt was merely one of the¬†most gifted talents ever to don a Caps’ sweater. He was big, and a powerful skater.¬†¬†He possessed hockey sense in spades, and he regularly directed cross-ice passes to teammates on the tape at full speed. He was lethal on draws, and he was a shut-down defensive gem. He¬†remains perhaps the most complete hockey player in Capitals’ history. ¬†
He once scored 5 goals in a game against Philadelphia — on 5 shots. (Think Ovechkin will accomplish that?)¬†Number 16 ranks¬†fifth all-time in Caps’ scoring¬†with¬†555 points in 629 games from 1979-89.¬†¬†
The NHL Network interviewed a very proud papa about Anton late Friday night, and it wasn’t just anybody asking the questions. Bengt’s coach as a Cap, Gary Green, asked¬†father to compare son’s game with his own.
“He looks a little like dad [on the ice],” the ex-Cap great responded. “He has a little more skill, he shoots better.”
“He has a big future in front of him.”¬†
The Capitals traded with New Jersey on Friday night to select Gustafsson, surrendering the 54th pick to the Devils and leap-frogging Edmonton to do so.¬†And that’s what’s drawn our attention to this selection in particular. You’ll recall that just last summer there was what might be termed “bad blood” between the Washington and Edmonton organizations over the pusuit of unrestricted free agent Michael Nylander. Edmonton believed that they’d had an agreement with the unrestricted free agent pivot, only to see him land in D.C.
Back in 1978, the Caps drafted¬†the elder Gustafsson¬†in the fourth round. He subsequently played a season of pro hockey in Sweden and then signed with Edmonton of the World Hockey Association. But in ’79-80 Edmonton was one of four WHA clubs to merge with the NHL, and the Caps, having already drafted Gustafsson, claimed his rights. A dispute ensued; the Caps prevailed; the rest is history.
So imagine with that backfile the circumstances on the draft floor in Ottawa Friday night. The Caps obviously had Anton Gustafsson higher on their draft board than no.23, and ahead of them, as Gustafsson remained un-selected as the Caps’ pick neared,¬†were the¬†Oilers.
The guess here is that General Manager George McPhee won’t be receiving a Christmas card from¬†Kevin Lowe’s family this December.¬†¬†¬†
On Friday night the Caps also acquired¬†Natick, Massachusetts,¬†native John Carlson, a big-bodied defenseman, in¬†the first round. They dealt Steve Eminger and the 84th pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for the 27th pick in the first round, which they used to select Carlson.¬†The 6 ’2, 215-pound blueliner¬†played with Indiana of the USHL in 2007-08.


  1. Stimpy wrote:

    I’m not so sure it was Edmonton that was looking to get AG, but somebody farther back willing to trade up to get him ahead of the Caps. The Caps paid a pretty high price to move up two spots. I think NJ was going to trade their pick and the Caps had to out bid for it, or at least NJ made them believe that.

    21 June, 2008 at 9:27 am | Permalink
  2. 21 June, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink
  3. Scai wrote:

    Just watched the interview on the Caps’ site. Seems like a great guy. I love the pick.

    21 June, 2008 at 7:05 pm | Permalink