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I Am The Prospect: Capitals' first-round pick Connor McMichael knows patience is key in his path to the NHL

I Am The Prospect: Capitals' first-round pick Connor McMichael knows patience is key in his path to the NHL

Connor McMichael is the first Washington Capitals' prospect featured in NBC Sports Washington's I Am The Prospect series. Click here to check out more profiles from I am The Prospect.

Connor McMichael looks forward to the day when he puts on a red sweater for the Capitals in his NHL debut.

"It’s something special coming to Washington and hopefully be the next player who comes out here as one of the legends.” McMichael said.

But for now, the Capitals' 2019 first-round pick will continue to develop his skills under former Caps head coach Dale Hunter in the Ontario Hockey League for the London Knights. Hunter's brother Mark is also a part of the Knights as the general manager.

“We’re excited that Dale’s gonna have him for another year or two," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. "That’s really gonna help his development."

McMichael has been a standout player for the Knights, leading the team in scoring and to a first-place finish in the Western Conference last season. Many NHL prospects do not get the immediate call-up to the big leagues, so having a former Capitals great play a big role in McMichael's development is a big plus.

“He’s very well-coached," Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said. "He’s played in kind of a bigger stage in terms of the number of people who come to watch London play. We like that fact that he’s already dealt with some of that pressure and he’s succeeded."

The 19-year-old from Ajax, Ontario, is patient, knowing further development of his skills is a necessity to succeeding in the NHL.

"Dale’s been huge for my development and so has Mark so I’m thankful to have them," McMichael said.

What attracted the Capitals' top brass to McMichael was his ability to play both ends of the ice, a 200-foot player.

“He’s got a knack for scoring goals around the net," MacLellan said. "He’s got a little extra sense or intelligence, hockey intelligence that a lot of players don’t have.”

For McMichael, patience is key, and a virtue that will pay off for both him and the Capitals in the long-run.

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The Capitals are not happy about Anders Lee's hit on Nicklas Backstrom

The Capitals are not happy about Anders Lee's hit on Nicklas Backstrom

John Carlson did not play at all in the round robin and finally returned to action on Wednesday in Game 1 against the New York Islanders. But just on his second shift Carlson, not someone known for fighting, dropped the gloves with Islanders captain Anders Lee. Why? Because Lee had just delivered a late hit to the chest to the unsuspecting Nicklas Backstrom and Carlson was not happy about it. Not one bit.

"It looked real dirty to me," Carlson said. "I think when a guy is kind of coming up and kind of looking back at the pass, I've heard it a lot over the years that they're trying to take that out of the game. More than anything, as a player that's been around, you kind of sense the impact. Nicky doesn't get hit very often, so that should tell you all you need to know. He's probably one of the most aware players in the league. That was my reaction to what happened."

The hit appeared to be to the chest of Backstrom, but the puck was long gone by that point so it was very clearly late. It also seemed to be made worse by the fact that Backstrom did not appear ready for the hit, perhaps because the puck was not close. An unprepared Backstrom was then dropped to the ice by the hit.

Backstrom played only 7:21 for the game and did not appear in the second or third period.

RELATED: BACKSTROM EXITS GAME 1

Carlson was not the only one who was upset following the game.

"It looked extremely late," T.J. Oshie said of the hit. "In the frame I saw, there wasn't even a puck, and it still looked late. It's hard seeing a leader and a player like Backy is not only for our team, but pretty good role model as far as in the NHL, go down like that on a late, cheap play. It's out of our hands."

Head coach Todd Reirden did not have an update after the game saying Backstrom was continued to be evaluated. But even if he did not have much to say on Backstrom's health, he had plenty to say about the hit itself.

“[Backstrom’s] continuing to get looked at," Reirden said. "Obviously, he couldn’t finish the game. It was a late hit on an unexpected player that was in a spot [where] he was extremely vulnerable. So those are some things we saw there. It’s as simple as that. Like I said, late hit, the player wasn’t expecting it and it’s predatory.”

Not surprisingly, the Islanders saw the hit differently.

"I tried to throw the breaks on a little bit there, but I caught him, the end result after that a penalty, a couple of fights."

"It was one of those plays if you come laterally, especially with congestion at the blue line and Anders was making a hockey play. Anders is a strong guy."

Perhaps the biggest difference of opinion between the two teams is what this means going forward. Clearly the Caps thought the hit was dirty and warrants supplementary discipline. The Islanders, however, think the matter is settled.

"It was settled and then the game continued on," Lee said.

"I think the hit was made, they responded, Wilson went after Lee, they fought and that's probably the end of it," Trotz said. "We'll see."

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Todd Reirden expects Lars Eller to be back for Capitals in Game 2 vs. Islanders

Todd Reirden expects Lars Eller to be back for Capitals in Game 2 vs. Islanders

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller is expected to be back in action for Game 2 against the New York Islanders, head coach Todd Reirden said following the Game 1 loss on Wednesday.

Eller did not play in the first game of Washington's Stanley Cup Playoffs run as he awaited clearance by the league after he re-entered the bubble on Sunday. Eller departed Toronto on August 5 for the birth of his second child, Alexander.

Before Eller can rejoin the team, he must test negative for the coronavirus four times over a four-day period

RELATED: HOLTBY'S ROUGH NIGHT AND MORE FROM GAME 1

Eller's return is something Washington will be happy to see, as the team is in desperate need of some help at the center position. Nicklas Backstrom left Wednesday's game with an injury and his status for Game 2 is still unknown. 

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