The first round of the 2014 NHL Draft emanates from Philadelphia on June 27 with the Washington Capitals holding the 13th overall selection. Over the next week, we'll profile five potential draftees that could realistically be available to Washington.
Team: Red Deer Rebels (Western Hockey League)
Age: 17 (July 8, 1996)
NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: No. 9 (North American Skaters)
It's no secret that the Capitals are in desperate need of an infusion of young defensive talent. This past season, Washington's defensive corps often featured an assemblage of overmatched rookies and minor-league journeymen.
Fleury provides that boost as one of the few high-end defensive prospects available among this summer's draft class.
At 6'2" and 202 pounds with room to grow, Fleury blends a physical edge with smooth skating ability. His strong two-way game, developed under former NHL coach Brent Sutter, has made him the second-ranked defenseman in the draft behind potential No. 1 overall pick Aaron Ekblad.
Because of the age-limit agreement between the NHL and Canadian Hockey League, Fleury would either have to play for Washington or return to Red Deer next season if the Capitals were to select him at No. 13. For what it's worth, only two players in franchise history have ever played a full season at 18 years old (which Fleury will turn on July 8): Bobby Carpenter in 1981 and Scott Stevens in 1982.
"He's got good, strong mobility, great vision and has a knack for making that first good outlet pass. He's composed and calm with the puck and has an ability of knowing when to join the rush at the right moments."
"He is a 6-3, 200-pound defender who plays the body frequently, and does it well; he projects as a high-end physical player at the top level if he continues to grow into his body. He's also very mobile in every direction, he's got a great top speed to rush the puck, and he's agile with his turns/pivots and tight space maneuvering. Fleury also has the ability to QB a power play.
"His main drawback is his hockey sense, as he can be an overly risky player who can try to do too much, and make costly turnovers. He has some good stretches defensively, coupled with some stretches that make you hide your eyes. He could be a potential two-way horse in the NHL if he fully pans out."
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