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Capitals Prospect Report: 3 Caps prospects earn invites to national junior team camps

Capitals Prospect Report: 3 Caps prospects earn invites to national junior team camps

Capitals prospects Connor McMichael, Aliaksei Protas and Martin Hugo Has each earned invites to the Canadian, Belarussian and Czech Republic national junior team camps respectively in preparation for the World Junior Championship that will begin on Dec. 26.

McMichael currently leads the OHL in points with 56 while Protas is tied for the league lead in the WHL with 42.

The Caps desperately needed to restock its forward prospects with high-end talent and if their junior seasons are any indication, it appears that the team has done so.

"Our guys really liked Protas and thought there was a lot of upside there so we traded up to get the opportunity to draft him," general manager Brian MacLellan said. "We knew his skating was an issue, so I don't know that when we drafted him we thought the progression would be that good. But when we had him in camp, almost on a daily basis you could see his skating get better and him get more confident. So I think leaving camp we had a really good feeling about him that he was going to have a good year- not to extent that he'd be leading the Western Hockey League in scoring, but we were excited about the prospect.

"We're excited to have these guys. There's a long way to go from where they're at to get to the NHL, development-wise. But when you have two players doing what they're doing, it's exciting to have those forward prospects in your organization."

Has, the Caps' lone defensive prospect from the 2019 draft, is currently playing in Finland. Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News asked him about his weaknesses and strengths as a player: “Probably the physical game and being more mean on the ice. The plusses are shooting and overall competitiveness.”

Other prospect notes

  • McMichael had a conversation with Junior Hockey Magazine. Check it out here.
  • MacLellan had some high praise for Martin Fehervary as well and wants to get him more NHL games this season."I think Fehervary is really close. I'd like to see him in games here at some point if we get an opportunity. He had a great camp. He's played well down in Hershey. He looks like he's pretty close to being able to play." Coming into this season I would have thought Alex Alexeyev was the closest to making the jump to the NHL. I think that has changed and Fehervary is the next man up.
  • Prospect expert Corey Pronman released a story on the prospects he was wrong about. Fehervary made the list of players he was too low on.
  • Pronman also declared Protas one of the biggest risers from the 2019 draft.
  • In the wake of players coming out and describing how they were treated by Bill Peters and Mike Babcock, former player Daniel Carcillo made allegations of abuse and hazing against the Sutter family including Brent Sutter who owns and coaches the Red Deer Rebels. Alexeyev, who played three seasons in Red Deer, came to the defense of his former coach on Twitter.
  • Speaking of Alexeyev, Ben Sumner of the Washington Post wrote about how his first season in Hershey is going (spoiler: Really well). You can read the article here.
  • Beck Malenstyn was reassigned to Hershey on Dec. 1. He played in three games with the Caps. Check out a prospect profile on him from Chocolate Hockey here.
  • Tobias Geisser was loaned to EV Zug in Switzerland on Thursday. According to a team official, the move was made because it was determined this would be best for his development. There are just too many bodies on the blue line in Hershey. Even without Geisser, there are still nine defensemen currently on the roster so playing time was hard to come by. Geisser had only gotten into seven games this season. The official I reached out to thought this move may have happened sooner if not for some earlier injuries to Lucas Johansen, Bobby Nardella and Colby Williams.
  • The Hershey Bears held their annual Teddy Bear Toss and broke their own world record with 45,650 stuffed animals thrown onto the ice. Christian Djoos scored the goal that launched the teddys.
  • Brett Leason scored his first professional goal, notching the overtime winner in the Teddy Bear Toss game. He was set up by a great pass from Djoos that got him in behind the defense. His initial shot was stopped, but he hit in the rebound for the goal and his third point of the night. The game was also his first professional multi-point game.
  • Kody Clark made his professional debut with Hershey on Nov. 24. He earned his first professional point, an assist, on Nov. 30.
  • Philippe Maillet's two-point night on Nov. 27 earned him 100 career AHL points.




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Do the Caps have the offense to win the Stanley Cup?

Do the Caps have the offense to win the Stanley Cup?

The bye week and the all-star break are upon us meaning we will have to wait until Jan. 27 for the Capitals to take the ice again for a game. With the season over halfway done and the Feb. 24 trade deadline rapidly approaching, the focus of the season now shifts towards the playoffs.

Washington has certainly done enough at this point to show they are a playoff team, but just how good are they? Are they a true contender or are they destined for an early exit?

Over the next few days, I will examine the team to answer if it is good enough on offense, defense and in net to win a Cup and, if not, what they must do to improve by April.

Today’s question: Do the Caps have the offense to win the Stanley Cup?

Team stats
3.55 goals per game (1st in the NHL)
20.3-percent power play (13th in the NHL)

Goal leaders
1. Alex Ovechkin 34
2. Jakub Vrana 22
3. T.J. Oshie 18

Assist leaders
1. John Carlson 47
2. Nicklas Backstrom 29
3. Evgeny Kuznetsov 26

Point leaders
1. John Carlson 60
2. Alex Ovechkin 50
3. Evgeny Kuznetsov 42

Just in case you forgot about Ovechkin, he just let everyone know that yes, he is still outrunning Father Time with eight goals in the past three games. He remains one of the top scorers in the league, that is beyond dispute and so is this team's the top-six.

Backstrom, Wilson, Vrana, Kuznetsov and Oshie round out one of the best top two lines in the NHL. There are only a few minor concerns with this group.

Vrana and Kuznetsov have proven to be streaky performers. When they are hot, they are among the top offensive players in the NHL. Vrana is actually tied with David Pastrnak for third in the NHL in even-strength goals with 21. He is as dangerous a goal-scorer as just about anyone in the league. And everyone knows how good Kuznetsov can be at his peak. Just look at the 2018 Cup run.

You just have to cross your fingers and hope Vrana and Kuznetsov don’t get cold in the postseason because when their production tapers off, it craters.

Moving on to the bottom-six, let’s start with the fourth line because it is easier. Brendan Leipsic, Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway is one of, if not the outright best fourth line in hockey. They are able to hem opponents into the offensive zone and allow very little in the way of scoring opportunities. If you put any credence into things like Corsi, Nic Dowd is the best on the team with a Corsi-For percentage of 57.22 while Leipsic is 54.04 and Hathaway is 54.43. In a nutshell, what that means is this line is generating a heck of a lot more offensive opportunities than it is allowing which is a huge asset to have for a fourth line.

What’s more, these guys are the kind of players you hate to play against. Hathaway and Leipsic both play with an edge and Leipsic has a fair amount of speed as well. They have to make sure they limit the penalties they take, but otherwise this line is a huge asset.

That brings us to the third line.

While the offense is starting to pick up slightly, overall the numbers have just not been there. Lars Eller is doing fine with 11 goals and 16 assists, but Richard Panik is having a tough first year with five goals and five assists while Carl Hagelin has only three goals and eight assists and that’s including the two goals he scored in the past week.

Even as the line continues to improve, I do not think at its peak it is going to prove to be as good offensively as once hoped.

The third line has definitely found a role as a shutdown line, however, which is how Reirden has been utilizing them of late, using them to shut-down one of the opposition’s top lines both to limit their offense and also to free up Ovechkin’s line by getting it away from that matchup.

That’s easier to do at home, now Reirden has to figure out just how to best utilize the third line one the road where it is tougher to get the matchups you want.

Overall, however, this line is trending in the right direction. The power play, however, is not.

Though it ranks 13th in the NHL, that percentage is being propped up by a good start. Since Dec. 1, the power play ranks 30th in the NHL at 14.1-percent. The offense has just been non-existent. The struggles have clearly gone to the head of the players because it becomes a comedy of errors on the ice every time the team gets the man advantage. Reirden has tried Vrana on the top unit in Kuznetsov’s spot, but that spot is not well suited for Vrana as he is a sniper and Kuznetsov plays primarily around the goal line where shots are hard to come by. Kuznetsov on the second unit is largely wasted as there is not enough scoring talent on that unit for him to set up.

The result is two power play units playing without confidence and not producing while also allowing far too many shorthanded goals.

The verdict: Yes, the Caps have the offense to win the Cup.

In terms of the personnel, it is hard to get better than what the Caps have. The top two lines are loaded with talent and the fourth line is the best at what it does. The offense is lacking on the third line, but Reirden has found a role for it in which it can still have a positive impact on the game and its offensive production seems to be improving.

The only real concern is the power play, not only because it is completely ineffective but because the team is pressing so hard it has allowed five shorthanded goals, tied for the most in the league. As bad as it is, however, I think this is a case of frustration making things worse. With the personnel this team has, there is no reason for it to be producing at only 14.1-percent. Once they string a few goals together, things will turn around. I don’t think it will be among the most potent in the NHL, but I do think this is a low point and a natural progression will occur.

After the power play, however, it is hard to find a more potent offense than the one assembled in Washington.


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Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

The Capitals may not be participating in Stadium Series this year, but the team is embracing outdoor hockey around Washington for spirited game day fun.

The Caps are hosting Rock The Rink skates at The Wharf, Penatgon Row, Rockville Town Square and The Avenue at White Marsh on select game days from January to March 2020. Fans attending these events can wear Capitals jerseys or gear to get either $5 off admission or free skate rentals.

The Wharf

Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., Jan. 31 at 6 p.m., and Feb 17. at 1 p.m.

Transit Pier will boast a Capitals-paneled ice rink with an ice resurfacer, trivia contests, giveaways, along with a DJ. The Capitals Campire will also boast Adirondack chairs around a fire to roast marshmallows for smores in front of a 14-foot jumbotron screen to watch the Capitals games. 

Pentagon Row

Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

These skates will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants. The Caps games will also be on at surrounding bars. 

The Avenue at White March

Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

This event will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants.

Rockville Town Square

Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and March 5 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the above fun, Rockville native and Capitals hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa will be there on Jan. 31. You can watch the Capitals game at local bars as well. 

Fans attending these events or using local outdoor rinks this season are encouraged to post about it on social media by tagging @capitals and using the hashtag #RockTheRink to enter themselves for a chance to win prizes.

Caps slept through the first 40 minutes, they did not give Holtby much help though he was bad in his own right and Vrana sure did show something with the game-winning goal.

As for no penalties...not so much.