The Washington Capitals have signed one of their top draft picks from this June, inking Kody Clark to a three-year entry-level contract with an average annual value of $870K. Clark is currently playing with the Ottawa 67’s, meaning this contract will slide forward and won’t currently count against the Capitals 50-contract limit.
Clark, the son of Toronto Maple Leafs legend Wendel Clark, was the 47th overall selection in June’s draft. Like his father, the 19-year old forward plays with an edge and is willing to engage physically all over the ice. His offensive output hasn’t quite shown up yet, given that he only scored 39 points last season and is off to a slow start in 2018-19, but many believe it will round into form to make him a legitimate two-way threat in the NHL. Even if it doesn’t, his polished defensive ability should help carry him into professional hockey down the road.
The Capitals seem to believe in that two-way upside, given that they already have him under contract. There’s little reason to believe that Clark will be ready for the NHL next season, meaning he could go back to the OHL, but the Capitals don’t need to rush any of their prospects right now. That’s the benefit of winning the Stanley Cup with an elite core, and one that will allow them to develop the next wave of prospects slowly. Amazingly, even as most of their NHL contemporaries were trading away high picks to load up at the draft, the Capitals were stockpiling them. Clark, selected 47th, was actually the Capitals third pick of the draft after Alexander Alexeyev and Martin Fehervary. To have three picks in the top 50 the year you win the Stanley Cup is almost unprecedented, and should help keep the team relevant even longer.