Top prospects for Washington Capitals

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NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec. 16. Today, the top five prospects for the Washington Capitals, according to NHL.com.

 

[Capitals 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Behind the Numbers | Fantasy breakdown]

 

1. Connor McMichael, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 25 pick in 2019 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: London (OHL): 52 GP, 47-55-102

McMichael took a big step in his development last season when he was third in the Ontario Hockey League in goals and points with London and helped Canada win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship with seven points (five goals, two assists) in seven games. 

Washington is excited to see the center’s ceiling when he fills out his frame (6-foot, 183 pounds). After the 19-year-old practiced with the Capitals but did not play during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, they hope the timing fits for him to attend training camp when he’s finished playing in the 2021 WJC.  

“That would be awesome, if it worked out that way, to take a good look at him,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “… To have a real strong skilled player like that, a young talent, I can’t wait for the opportunity to work with him, whenever that will be.”

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: 31 in 31: Washington Capitals 2020-21 season preview

 

2. Hendrix Lapierre, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 22 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Chicoutimi (QMJHL): 19 GP, 2-15-17

Lapierre might have been a top 10 pick in the 2020 draft if not for neck and head injuries that limited him to 19 games last season. The Capitals traded a 2020 third-round pick to the Calgary Flames to move up two spots and select the 18-year-old center at No. 22.  

Lapierre (6-0, 179) scored eight points (three goals, five assists) in his first five games with Chicoutimi of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season.

“He’s a skilled player, potential to be a top-six centerman,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said. “Has real good character, real good personality, a lot of positives about the player.”

Projected NHL arrival: 2022-23

Video: Capitals draft F Hendrix Lapierre No. 22

 

3. Martin Fehervary, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 46 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Washington: 6 GP, 0-1-1; Hershey (AHL): 56 GP, 4-10-14

Fehervary (6-2, 200) was solid last season in his first six NHL regular-season games and two postseason games. But there is no room for the 21-year-old on the Capitals with the signings of free agents Justin Schultz and Trevor van Riemsdyk giving them seven healthy defensemen (Michal Kempny is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.).

Barring another injury to a defenseman or a trade, Fehervary likely will begin this season with Hershey of the American Hockey League, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he plays for Washington before the end of the season.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

4. Alexander Alexeyev, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 31 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Hershey (AHL): 58 GP, 3-18-21

A concussion sustained during the 2019 Prospects Showcase cost Alexeyev a chance to make Washington’s opening night roster as a first-year pro last season and Fehervary passed him on the depth chart. The Capitals continue to have high hopes for the 21-year-old, who probably needs another season of AHL experience.

Alexeyev (6-4, 210) was on the Capitals postseason roster and practiced with them without playing any games. Playing for Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the Kontinental Hockey League while awaiting the start of the NHL and AHL seasons will help his development.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

5. Vitek Vanecek, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 39 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Hershey (AHL) 31 GP, 19-10-1, 2.26 GAA, .917 SV% 

Vanecek (6-2, 187) was the Capitals backup last postseason when Ilya Samsonov was injured, and Laviolette said he is looking forward to seeing what he can do in training camp. But with Samsonov being groomed as the future No. 1 following Braden Holtby‘s signing with the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 9, Washington wanted an experienced goalie and signed Henrik Lundqvist to a one-year contract Oct. 9. That means Vanecek, who turns 25 on Jan. 9, likely will remain in Hershey for another season unless Samsonov or Lundqvist has a health issue or struggles.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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