Starting with the 2002 draft, the Washington Capitals made it their mission to hoard as many first-round picks as humanly possible, making 14 selections in the first round between 2002 and 2008. No team had more than 11, while only Los Angeles and Phoenix had more than 10 over the same time period.
The result has been an up-and-coming team in the Eastern Conference that has taken significant strides the past two seasons, and was just one game away from reaching the conference finals in 2008-09. One of the players responsible for the team's recent success has been winger, and 2002 first-round pick, Alexander Semin.
Playing on a team with Alex Ovechkin, it's easy for players to get lost in the shuffle, and despite the incredible numbers he was putting up this season, it sometimes seemed like Semin was known more for an interview answer (hey, I admit it, I focused on it, too) than his actual on-ice performance. Despite playing in just 62 games for the Capitals, the 25-year-old Semin registered career highs in assists (45) and points (79), while also putting up his second 30-goal campaign.
Draft Year: 2002
One of the Capitals' three first-rounders in '02, Semin was picked 13th overall, one spot after the team selected defenseman Steve Eminger.
Why He's On My List
Ridiculous skill. There are few players with more raw talent than Semin, and his points-per-game average in 2008-09 was higher than every player in the league not named Ovechkin, Malkin, or Crosby. Assuming he actually plays more than 77 games in a season at some point, he would appear to be a lock for 40 goals (or perhaps even 45). Should never, ever, under any circumstances, be involved in another fight in the NHL. Ever.
Obligatory YouTube Video
Crazy goal from this season against the Carolina Hurricanes. Semin falls to his knees, stickhandles, and then scores from the top of the circle.