A Closer Look at Karl Alzner
After watching Alzner's performance on the podium surrounded by cameras and bright lights, I couldn't help but come away very impressed. The kid had a big smile on his face the whole time, and clearly seemed at ease with the whole thing. He answered questions with ease, cracked jokes and seemed to be having a great time.
So what's the skinny on Alzner? My Fanhouse colleague Jon "J.P." Press called him, the "safest" pick in the top 10, and when you listen to McPhee, it's clear he thinks he's grabbed an all-around player who may be the most NHL ready in this draft. And if he isn't, it seems as if McPhee doesn't want to rush his development, telling the reporters covering the team that Alzner would be returned to his junior team if he didn't make the Caps out of training camp.
As far as who the Capitals passed up, that would be forward Sam Gagner of the London Knights, son of ex-NHLer Dave Gagner who spent most of his career with the North Stars/Stars organization. Just before McPhee stepped to the podium, he was deep in conversation with Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe, but McPhee was ultimately unmoved -- or so it seemed at first.
As he stepped to the microphone to make the announcement, he said that the team's pick was from the London Knights -- Gagner's team. Chagrined, he quickly corrected himself, and announced that the pick was Alzner. You could hardly blame McPhee, however, as he made it clear afterwards that though he favored Alzner, the difference between the two was more like choice 1 and 1A.
UPDATE: Fresh from my camera, here's the post-choice interview with Alzner: