December marks six months for the reason that Washington Capitals chosen 4 NHL hopefuls within the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
The Capitals drafted forwards Connor McMichael, Brett Leason, and Aliaksei Protas together with defenseman Martin Hugo Has on the draft in Vancouver this previous June. The next weeks noticed every decide attend Washington’s growth camp and all three forwards ink their first NHL contracts. Since then, the 4 prospects have gone their separate methods to proceed their growth.
It’s comprehensible if followers haven’t stored updated with the group’s most-recent draft class. In spite of everything, Washington’s league-best 23-5-5 begin to the 2019-20 season has been time consuming by itself.
Nevertheless, with three of the 4 prospects chosen to take part of their nations’ respective choice camps forward of the fast-approaching 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, now’s the proper time to interrupt down every participant’s first six months within the Capitals group.
McMichael Dominating the OHL
The Capitals knew they have been investing in a particular participant when McMichael was chosen with the 25th decide within the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The centerman entered the draft coming off of a career-best season, ending the 2018-19 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) season ranked 39th with a career-high 72 factors in 67 video games for the London Knights. He additionally recorded profession highs in targets and assists, ending the season with 36 every and establishing himself as a first-round decide.
The Canadian had already proved himself worthy of his first NHL contract and NHL ice time throughout preseason, however his efficiency all through the OHL season has led some to assert that he’s the very best junior hockey participant on the planet.
Connor McMichael of the London Knights. (Luke Durda/OHL Photos)
McMichael is completely tearing aside the OHL this season. The 18-year-old leads the league with 59 factors (25 targets, 34 assists) in simply 27 video games—13 factors shy of final season’s whole—and he’s ranked third throughout the CHL in factors. He has solely been held and not using a level in two video games.
The previous first-round decide is nicely on tempo to have his finest season so far. He’s tallying a mean 2.19 factors per sport, and he’s scoring slightly below a aim per sport. At this price, McMichael would end the season with an estimated 63 targets and 85 assists for a complete of 148 factors—tied for the 15th-most factors in OHL historical past.
His 25 targets this season are second-best solely to Arthur Kaliyev with 28. Nevertheless, the league-leading goalscorer has performed in three extra video games than the Capitals’ prospect, giving McMichael the chance to simply overtake the lead down the road.
With these numbers, it’s no shock that McMichael was chosen for Workforce Canada’s World Junior Championship choice camp on Monday, Dec. 2. He’s one in every of 31 gamers competing to fill the 23-man roster for the event.
Given how nicely he has carried out this season, it’s onerous to think about head coach Dale Hunter not choosing the two-time OHL Participant of the Week for his or her journey to the Czech Republic within the coming weeks.
Leason Underperforming in Hershey
There have been many questions surrounding Leason main as much as the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The 20-year-old Canadian was coming into his third draft after being missed the earlier two years attributable to his under-developed skating skill and missing offensive manufacturing.
A breakout 2018-19 season for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League noticed his draft inventory rise, however scouts believed he had reached his developmental peak. However, the winger was a projected first or second-round decide.
Leason slipped to the Capitals late within the second spherical with the 54th-overall decide. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract in July and made his method onto Washington’s preseason roster.
Workforce Canada’s Brett Leason (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Regardless of a robust preseason through which he tallied a aim and an help and noticed first-line ice time alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, Leason was assigned to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) for the common season.
The winger’s begin to the AHL season has reasonably underwhelming, recording simply two assists in his first 19 video games for the Bears. Nevertheless, Leason started to warmth up firstly of the month. He scored his first AHL aim—an extra time game-winner in opposition to the Hartford Wolf Pack—and recorded two assists on Sunday, Dec. 1 to lift his season whole to 5 factors.
It’s protected to say that Washington’s second-round draft decide has underperformed for a majority of his first skilled season. Nevertheless, he demonstrated in his three-point show in opposition to Hartford that he’s totally able to producing offensive manufacturing. So long as he can keep constant, the Bears would possibly start to see shades of the Leason of outdated all through the remainder of the season.
Protas Having Profession-Greatest Season
Moreover snatching McMichael at 25th general, the Capitals landed their greatest steal of the draft after buying and selling as much as choose Protas within the third spherical with the 91st decide.
The Belarussian centerman—one other Prince Albert product—obtained the popularity of NHL scouts throughout the 2018 WHL playoffs. He recorded 10 targets—together with two back-to-back hat methods within the Jap Convention finals—and 12 assists to assist safe the WHL title.
Protas signed his first NHL contract and made the Capitals’ preseason roster following the draft. He registered a three-point sport in opposition to the Chicago Blackhawks in his preseason debut and tallied his first NHL aim.
Aliaksei Protas of the Prince Albert Raiders (Robert Murray/WHL)
Regardless of a powerful preseason within the NHL, the 18-year-old was despatched again to the WHL to proceed his growth into one of many league’s finest gamers.
Protas is already having the very best season of his profession simply 27 video games into the common season. He’s tied for fourth in each targets (18) and factors (42) within the WHL, and he’s additionally tied for sixth in assists with 24. At this price, the middle will end the season with an estimated 45 targets, 60 assists, and 105 factors.
His efficiency this season has earned him the reward of pundits throughout the hockey world. Largely notably, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman labeled Protas as “the highest early riser from the 2019 draft.” (from ‘Pronman: Greatest risers from the 2019 NHL Draft,’ The Athletic, 11/25/2019)
In November, the 18-year-old was chosen to signify Belarus on this month’s World Junior Championship Division 1A. As of Wednesday, Protas has recorded one aim in two video games thus far within the event.
Has Gaining Expertise in Finnish Senior Leagues
The Capitals traded as much as choose Has—the one defenseman of their forward-heavy draft class—within the fifth spherical of June’s draft. The Czech Republic native entered the draft ranked 68th general and Central Scouting’s 38th-best European skater accessible, however he fell all the way down to the 153rd decide.
Has participated in Washington’s growth camp following the draft. He then returned to Finland the place he was referred to as up from Tappara’s U-20 group to compete for the senior group within the Liiga—Finland’s high league. Nevertheless, he was loaned to Koovee of the Mestis—Finland’s second-best league—after 5 video games for Tappara. He has recorded 2 factors (1 aim, 1 help) for Tappara, and 1 aim for Koovee this season.
The defenseman was chosen earlier this month to signify the Czech Republic within the upcoming World Junior Championship. He’s anticipated to be named group captain for the event.