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Washington Capitals October Prospect Update

Checking in on the farm

NHL: SEP 20 Preseason - Capitals at Canadiens Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the first Washington Capitals monthly prospect update of the 2019-2020 season! Each month we’ll take a look at some of the team’s top prospects, how they did this month, their current status, and whether it will effect their potential.

Just like the NHL season, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, as it’s early yet and there’s a lot of hockey left.

Hershey Bears (AHL)

The Hershey Bears are off to a decent start to their season going 4-3-2, but this should be expected. The Bears have a lot of new and, more importantly, young faces so it will probably take them a month or so to really find their footing. This explains why the following players had some mediocre numbers. Expect these numbers to jump over the next month or two and keep climbing.

Alexander Alexeyev LHD

October: 9GP 1G 5A
Season: 9GP 1G 5A

The Capitals top defensive prospect is off to a great start in the AHL. Alexeyev is currently tied for second in AHL defensive rookie scoring (first overall is Chase Priskie, of course). He’s also second in shots to only top prospect Evan Bouchard, which is a promising sign. The young Russian didn’t let the summer injury and lack of pre-season time with the big club affect him negatively. He’s been smiling and playing hard every night.

Axel Jonsson Fjallby LW

October: 9GP 4G 1A
Season: 9GP 4G 1A

After leaving Hershey last season early, Axel has committed to staying in North America and it’s paying off early. His four goals are tied for the team league and tied for most goals among all AHL offensive rookies. The line that consists of him, Brian Pinho and Beck Malenstyn has been one of Hershey’s best. They are feisty, fast, and skilled, which are attributes that perfectly sum up Fjallby. It would not be surprising to see him called up to the Capitals this season.

Brian Pinho C/W

October: 9GP 1G 4A
Season: 9GP 1G 4A

Since Pinho entered the AHL last season he hasn’t found his place. He’s been playing every forward position on just about every line. It looks like he finally found his calling centering Fjallby and Malenstyn. He’s a good north south player with pretty good vision, and the speed of Fjallby and the physicality of Malenstyn really help his game. Pinho had all of 12 points last season in 73 games; at the rate he’s going he’ll hit the 12 point mark in about 50 less games.

Beck Malenstyn RW

October: 9GP 2G 2A
Season: 9GP 2G 2A

We already talked about the other two players, Fjallby and Pinho, so we might as well talk about the last of the trio. Beck kind of has the whole package: he’s big, very fast, nasty, and pretty darn skilled. There’s a reason he’s called Hershey’s Tom Wilson. It would be nice to see more offense from him, though he is relegated to the fourth line often. At the pace he’s going he’ll hit his season high from last season (16 points) in about 40 less games. He has a good energy bringing play style that could crack the NHL someday, but he still has more to prove.

Liam O’Brien LW

October: 9GP 3G 0A
Season: 9GP 3G 0A

O’Brien is a funny player. He’s an all grit player that fights and gets under the opponent’s skin, and who doesn’t really score, but when he does it’s a goal. He has 56 goals and 55 assists in his AHL career. And over the last three seasons he has 35 goals and 22 assists. This season doesn’t look much different with his three goals and zero assists. O’Brien is probably nothing more than a AHL player but could maybe sneak into a team 13th forward that gets some fourth line time.

Martin Fehervary LHD

October: 6GP 1G 2A
Season: 6GP 1G 2A

Fehervary has been jumping up the Capitals depth charts quickly. He was a stud for the Capitals in his three game stint for them and he continued that play down in Hershey. As a player who’s seen as more defensive player, he has put some points. But what’s most surprising is his 16 shots through six games. That ranks him fifth among all rookie defensemen, but if he played a full nine games and kept up his shot rate he’d rank first among all rookie defensemen with 24. This kid just keep impressing.

Garrett Pilon C

October: 9GP 0G 3A
Season: 9GP 0G 3A

Pilon is off to a decent start, but not as dominant as he probably should be. Pilon has all sorts of skill with great vision and passing ability, and a snipe of a shot in close. He should probably have more than three points to start the season. But it is just nine games, plenty of time to elevate his game.

Joe Snively LW

October: 9GP 1G 1A
Season: 9GP 1G 1A

Like Pilon, Snively should probably have a much better start than he has had. When he joined the Bears late last season he had seven points in nine games. That play obviously hasn’t carried over to this season. He only has 15 shots through nine games, those numbers need to be way higher for a kid with his shot. But like Pilon, it’s very early with plenty of time to go off and improve his game.

Shane Gersich LW

October: 6GP 0G 2A
Season: 6GP 0G 2A

This is a big season for Gersich. With so much young forward talent here or that’s coming, he really needs to stand out. So his two points through six games isn’t good enough, though he’s missed three games due to injury. He averaged just a bit over two shots per game last season, he has only seven shots this season. He has great shooting ability, like Snively, and needs to fire the puck way more often. If he doesn’t improve someone will pass him.

Connor Hobbs RHD

October: 5GP 0G 1A
Season: 5GP 0G 1A

Like Gersich, this is a big year for Hobbs. It’s now his third AHL season, which means he needs to really step up. With the loads of talented defensemen in the system there isn’t much room for error. Hobbs has great offensive capabilities but he hasn’t really found yet in the AHL. It would be huge for the Capitals if he could turn into a NHL defensemen, because they are lacking in both right handers and real pure offensive players on the backend.

Lucas Johansen LHD

October: 6GP 0G 1A
Season: 6GP 0G 1A

Of all the Capitals prospects, this season is the most important to Lucas Johansen. A first round pick, Johansen was pegged to be a top four NHL talent, but after two mediocre years in Hershey, Johansen is leaving everyone wanting more. And with the rise of Alexeyev, Fehervary, and Jonas Siegenthaler, he’s being passed by quickly. He’s already been healthy scratched this season due to the overload of defensemen in Hershey. His last season was actually going well, he was on pace for over 40 points but then had a brutal leg injury. There’s still time, but Johansen has to really step it up and do it quickly.

Brett Leason RW

October: 9GP 0G 1A
Season: 9GP 0G 1A

Leason is off to a slow start for his first professional season, but it isn’t for the lack of trying. He’s probably had five grade A scoring chances but just hasn’t buried them. He’s been on the ice for a lot of goals but he just hasn’t received a point for any of them. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him go on a tear soon, especially as he gets used to the pro game.

Bobby Nardella LHD

October: 1GP 0G 0A
Season: 1GP 0G 0A

Due to the influx of defensemen in Hershey and the addition of Christian Djoos, Nardella hasn’t been able to get much ice time, which is a shame because he looked really good in the prospect game and even in preseason for the Capitals. There isn’t much to say about him until he gets more playing time, but he has the offensive skills that the Bears could use.

Tobias Giesser LHD

October: 2GP 0G 0A
Season: 2GP 0G 0A

Geisser is one of the those guys that just won’t ever put up points. He played 41 games last season and had ONE point. So as I update him throughout the season there just won’t be much to say. But as left hander it’s doubtul he’ll ever see time with the Washington Capitals.

Colby Williams RHD

October: 7GP 0G 0A
Season: 7GP 0G 0A

Like O’Brien, Williams will always probably be a AHL player that could maybe be a number seven at the NHL level and get some games occasionally, but he won’t bring anything big to the table. His updates will always be short.

Vitek Vanecek G

October: 5GP .883sv%
Season: 5GP .883sv%

Many thought Vanecek would get the backup job with the Capitals for cap reasons, but with the suspension to Evgeny Kuznetsov it freed up cap space for Ilya Samsonov to stick with the big club. Which is a shame because Vanecek has really put in the time to be given a chance. His season isn’t off to a great start, but like it was stated above, the Bears were destined to struggle for a bit and Vanecek suffers for it. He should bounce back quickly.

Riley Sutter RW and Kody Clark RW are both injured to start the season and have not played a game.

South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL)

Krisofers Bundulis LHD

October: 6GP 0G 0A
Season: 6GP 0G 0A

Not to be mean but Kristofers is at the bottom of a very deep left handed defensemen pool. It’s doubtful he ends up in Hershey let alone with the Capitals.

Europe

Damien Riat RW (NLA)

October: 14GP 2G 4A
Season: 14GP 2G 4A

Riat has led his age group in the NLA every year he has played except when Auston Matthews played for a season in Switzerland. But right now, Riat is on pace for his lowest point totals since 2016-2017. He’s been switching between the second and third line, though mostly on the latter. His contract is up after this season so he could be in North America in the springtime, but he needs to finish his last season in Switzerland strong.

Hugo Has RHD (Liiga, Mestis, Jr. A SM-liiga)

October: Liiga 5GP 1G 1A, Mestis 4GP 1G 0A, SM-liiga 2GP 1G 0A
Season: Liiga 5GP 1G 1A, Mestis 4GP 1G 0A, SM-liiga 2GP 1G 0A

Hugo is an odd one for a couple reasons. First his name went from Martin Hugo Has to just Hugo Has according to EliteProspect.com, who are now saying the “Martin” is a nickname? I don’t know. The second reason this defensemen is odd is because he has played in three different leagues already over in Finland. Liiga is the top Finish league, Mestis is the second highest, and Jr. A SM-liiga is top junior league. Currently he is on loan with Mestis. In each league he seems to be doing well point wise, though Has definitely isn’t an offensive defensemen. He’s a good two way guy that has size and some speed to his game. It will be interesting to see in which league he will get the most time. Hopefully, it will be Liiga, but Mestis is fine for development too.

Sebastion Walfridsson LHD (Allsvenskan)

October: 13GP 2G 2A
Season: 13GP 2G 2A

Lost in the huge pipeline of left handed defensemen is Sebastian. He’s currently playing in Allsvenskan, which is the second highest league in Sweden. What separates Walfridsson from other defensemen in the Capitals system is his nastiness. He’s a very physical player that will destroy players along the boards. He isn’t offensive so it’s hard to calculate just how well his defensive game is. We probably won’t know until he comes over to North America if he does at all.

Kristian Roykas Marthinsen LW (Division 1)

October: 12GP 1G 1A
Season: 12GP 1G 1A

Roykas was once a favorite. Two seasons ago in the J20 Elit league he had 23 goals and eight assists in 23 games. It’s obvious he’s more of a shooter than a passer. Last season he made the jump to North America to play with Eric Florchuk in the WHL, where Kristian had a good not great rookie season. But this season he decided to return to Sweden to play with his brother in Division I, which is the third highest league in Sweden. Obviously, he’s not off to a great start. It’s hard to see a future for Marthinsen back in North America but it’s still a bit too early to assume anything.

OHL/WHL

Connor McMichael C (OHL)

October: 12GP 13G 13A
Season: 12GP 13G 13A

It’s been a very long time since the Capitals have had a legit top six center potential prospect, not since Kuznetsov was drafted back in 2010. The Capitals haven’t even had a top six player in general since Tom Wilson and Filip Forsberg were drafted in 2012. Well now, they finally have one in McMichael. Connor is shredding the OHL. He is currently fifth in points but has played 1-4 less games than the players in front of him. Among all players who have played at least eight games this is where McMichael ranks in the OHL.

  • Even Strength Primary Points Per Game: 2nd (to Quinton Byfield)
  • Even Strength Primary Points Per 60 Minutes: 2nd (To Quinton Byfield)
  • All Situations Primary Points Per Game: 2nd (to Arthur Kaliyev)

That’s some amazing company to be around. Byfield will be a top three, maybe even top pick this summer and Kaliyev is a beast who should have been drafted way higher last summer. Another impressive stat for McMichael? He has 10 more points than anyone else on his team. It is just 12 games into the season but it’s looking really good for McMichael and the Capitals.

Alexei Protas C (WHL)

October: 14GP 9G 10A
Season: 14GP 9G 10A

Every draft there are always a couple players taken after the second round that really turn heads the following season and the Capitals might have found one. Alexei, or “The Viper” as he’s nicknamed, has been off an amazing start in the WHL this season. He is currently tied for third in points overall but when you break down those points it’s even more impressive. This is how he ranks among the WHL:

  • Even Strength Primary Points Per Game: 1st
  • Even Strength Primary Points Per 60 Minutes: 5th (but all four in front of him are D+3)
  • All Situations Primary Points Per Game: 2nd (but the guy in front of him is a D+3)

D+3 players are players that are playing in their third season after their draft year. For instance, Protas is D+1 player, because he’s playing his first season after this draft year. So these D+3 guys are all 20+ year olds who should be on top of the league, beating up these younger guys. It’s not taking away from anything from what they are doing, it’s still good, but it’s more impressive that Protas is or would be #1 in all of these categories for his age.

The odd thing about Protats, is he’s been listed as the starting first line center ONCE on his team this season and only on the second line a couple times. The majority of his starts have been in bottom six. There are no WHL time on ice stats that I can find so it’s hard to tell if he’s just starting the game in bottom six and moves up or is really in bottom six. Because if he’s in bottom six putting up these points, that would be unreal. He also leads his team by four points.

Eric Florchuk C (WHL)

October: 11GP 5G 2A
Season: 11GP 5G 2A

Last season, Florchuk was kind of flung all over the lineup on both wing and center, but he’s finally been able to nail down a steady top six center position, helped by the fact Kriby Dach is staying in the NHL. Florchuk’s numbers are good so far, but if he wants to really take the next step he’ll need to be a point per game player in the WHL. Right now he’s looking like a good bottom six do-everything type player, like a Chandler Stephenson.

Alex Kannok-Leipert RHD (WHL)

October: 16GP 1G 1A
Season: 16GP 1G 1A

Alex is going to be one of those players that we’ll never really know how influential he is until we get analytics into the CHL. Because he is a defensive defensemen, but we don’t know how good he is at it. We know his team loves him as he was given captaincy this season. And his defensive partner, Bowen Byram, one of the best defensive prospects in the game, called Alex a top 10 defensive player in the WHL. Points will never be his game so we don’t know exactly how good or bad he is.

NCAA

Benton Maass RHD

October: 5GP 1G 1A
Season: 5GP 1G 1A

Maass had an amazing Freshman season, but then had down Sophomore season last year that included a brutal injury after being driven into the boards. So far this season he’s off to a good start, manning the top pair for the University of New Hampshire. Hopefully, he can fill that Chase Priskie sized hole in our hearts as the season goes on.

Mitchell Gibson G season has not yet begun at Harvard University so no updates on him yet